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Carl Olsen's Marijuana Archive

Lewis Atley
1074758-A
Iowa Men's Reformatory
Post Office Box B
Anamosa, Iowa 52205-0010

July 30, 1996

Dear Carl, Thanks for the Summer 1996 NORML newsletter.  As your article on page 11 points out, the forfeiture - double jeopardy issue, which I was counting on, is now dead.  Never, in one term, has any U.S. Supreme Court so damaged the Constitution. Besides the forfeiture - double jeopardy issue, they ruled that forfeitures from innocent owners is okay; that police can use pretext stops to search for drugs; limited federal judges' ability to make sure prisons provide legal access to inmates; and approved limiting habeas corpus in death penalty cases.  Now President Clinton is using the Olympic bombing to slip in roaming phone taps!  Who says 1984 isn't around? On my appeal, we now expect the Iowa Supreme Court to rule on the legality of mushrooms.  On one level, there is no mention in the statute of any mushroom.  A look at the whole of Iowa's Controlled Substances Act would lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that mushrooms are legal.  They define "drug," in part, as "substances, other than food, intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body..."  Most people would consider a mushroom "food."  The definition of "manufacture" says, in part, "by extraction from substances of natural origin" and all I had was the "substance of natural origin" - mushrooms.  I was in no way "extracting" the psilocybin. What the Iowa Supreme Court has to look at, though, is not whether it is fair to put me in prison for 20 years for having mushrooms not even listed as illegal.  What they really better consider is the precedent they will set in my case.  If they say a plant that naturally contains a listed substance is to be treated exactly like the extracted, or chemically synthesized, form, where does that leave the state of law?  Nicotine is illegal (Iowa Code 205.5) to possess or sell.  Every person with a pack of cigarettes would be in danger of prosecution.  Coffee, beans or brew, that contain caffeine would be subject to "drug" controls.  Home owners would be "manufacturing lysergic acid" if they grow morning glories.  Garden shops that sell San Pedro cactus, a common item, would be open to "sale of mescaline" charges.  The list goes on and on. While the Iowa Supreme Court may not care to be fair in my case because it's legally correct to rule I broke no laws, they may think twice if they realize how they rule will affect tobacco and coffee.  NORML should take heed that an adverse ruling in my case opens the door for prosecutorial slight-of-hand and using my case to change a misdemeanor marijuana charge into a felony THC charge. If the Iowa Supreme Court holds that mushrooms that naturally contain psilocybin are illegal, even if not specifically prohibited, because they happen to contain, naturally, psilocybin - where does that leave the Declaration of Independence and Constitution?  After all, they are documents that happen to "contain" an illegal substance since they are printed on paper containing hemp.  But then with the way the U.S. Supreme Court and our government is using the trumped up excuse of the "War on Drugs" to undermine these documents, they have already done much towards declaring them as "prohibited substances"! We expect a ruling in my case in December or January.  As I said, now that the forfeiture - double jeopardy issue is dead, they will, now, have to rule on the mushroom legality issue.  Will the Iowa Supreme Court declare that much of life on this planet is illegal - which ruling against me will, in essence, do - because 1000s of living organisms naturally contain a controlled substance?  Or will they leave us safe to enjoy our poppy seed rolls, morning glory flowers and other items not specifically outlawed?  Tune in this winter...

Namaste, Skip

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