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Carl Olsen's Marijuana Archive

Dear Mr. Olsen,

     Good day, sir.  Thank-you for your letter.  I especially
appreciate the information that you sent along.  I am finding a
lot of my own thoughts in other people's words.  Simply amazing!
I had really no idea that the issue of marijuana legalization had
such a diverse following.
     I will tell you something of my case.  In Dec. of 1989, my
brother, Dennis, was involved in the distribution of pot to
another man, Bruce Kennedy, a resident and business owner of Des
Moines.  They had been doing business for a number of years with
no problems.  Towards the end of the year 1989, my brother and
Kennedy had a falling out.  At the time he owed my brother
$3,500.00 for pot that had already been delivered.  He refused to
pay.  On the night of Dec. 7th, 1989, I walked into the business
that Kennedy owns and demanded that he hand over the cash.  I was
unarmed, but I was forcefull that he comply.  He did, and handed
me $3,500.00 in $100.00 bills.  As I was leaving the scene, I
heard sirens approaching, but I didn't connect them with my
collection of owed money.  To make a long story short, Mr.
Kennedy had called the police and told them that I had robbed
them.  I couldn't believe it!  After the arrest, after the months
in jail, after the appointment of a largely inept lawyer, a
public defender, I was brought to trial.  The state refused to
reduce the charge or offer me a plea bargain because I refused to
implicate my "brother" in this "scheme," as they called it.  At
trial Kennedy and another person whom I've never met, named
Chris, testified that I walked in, forced them both to the
ground, and robbed Kennedy at gun point, to give me all of the
money they had.  They both claim I took $6,000.00 in cash from
them.  They both state I wore a mask, but no gloves.  They both
claim they had known me for several years.
     At trial, the state produced no weapon, no fingerprints, no
money, no shoe prints, nothing except the word of these two
people.  And Chris, well, he wasn't even there that night.
     Lie number 1) $6,000.00 dollars was taken.  Lie number 2)
Chris was there.  Lie number 3) I had a gun.  Lie number 4) I
wore a mask.  There are others, but really too many to write.  I
found out at trial that the DMPD ident. team never even dusted
for fingerprints!
     So, it was only 24 hours from voire dire to verdict.  24
hours!  I would not implicate my brother, I really had no defense
at all, and I was naive.  I was 19 yrs old and didn't know a
thing about what was going on.  I was convicted of first-degree
armed robbery.  Now a lot of people won't believe what I say
simply because I am a convicted felon, but I know that there was
a conspiracy between the D.A., Jamie Bowers, and these two
witnesses, because another D.A. named Ramey (not sure of the
spelling of his name) took me in his office, laughed at me, told
me he was going to convict me anyways, because he talked to
Kennedy and Chris and told them what to say.  He told me this to
my face, but of course I have no proof that he did so.
     Anyhow, I was sentenced to 25 yrs, and I did 5 yrs 8 mos,
before I was placed on work-release.  Once there I encountered a
number of problems.  I went to the work-release at 2020 Center,
in Des Moines, and after just 45 days I was so stressed out and
depressed from trying to get myself back into society that I
started to get high.  My UA's were coming back dirty, so I went
to work one night and didn't come back.  My work-release was
revoked, and I was sent back to prison, where I am now.
     A whole lot of things contributed to my coming back to
prison.  For one, for 5 yrs & 8 mos in prison, my family has
given up on me.  They refused to stick by me, and now we are
     The people I encountered when I got out were all suspicious
of me and untrusting.  It seemed everyone I met looked down on
me.  It was really a drag.  I couldn't believe the way they
treated me, like I was dirt.  The guy I got a job from ($5.50 hr)
thought I was a slave and always called me names.  Scum, convict,
etc. ...  I put up with it for awhile, but soon it just became
too much.
     On Dec. 8th, 1995, I picked up my last check from work, an
ounce of bud, a 12 pack of beer, and got a motel room.  For 5
days I sat in that room, alone, but high.  I had no answer to my
problems, and I was seriously considering suicide.  I probably
would have gone through but the police arrested me.  What a way
my life has went.  All because I collected some money for a pot
     But I push on, along, and yes, afraid.  Afraid at how I will
make it when I get out the next time.  My counselor thinks it
will be between 5 & 16 months.
     My counselor, and I'm sure, the Parole Board, think that I
am just another failure.  But I wonder if they realize just how
difficult it was for me to leave prison.  I was this 19 yr old
kid when I got locked up, they had me for almost 6 yrs, and then
one day they come and tell me to get out, go back to society and
make it for yourself.  It was rough having no family there to
support me, but I still thought that I could manage.  But in the
end, it was that lone man calling me a scum, without knowing who
I really was or what I am really about, that finally pushed me to
far.  I just felt like I didn't belong.
     And all of this started because I collected money on a debt.
Kennedy lied about the amount of money so he could collect from
the insurance more than twice (actually he shouldn't have been
able to claim any) what he gave to me.  I suppose he made the
best out of a bad situation, huh?
     Anyhow, I just carry on now, a little wiser, but still angry
at the system that has tried to destroy my youth.  I could be
bitter I suppose, but I am better than that.  I see now that if I
destroy myself.  I have not let the years turn me into a
hardened, callous person.  In fact, I am quite compassionate,
happy, full of life, and I will continue to be a force despite
others who will try to bring me down.  I will succeed in my life,
one way or another.
     Mr. Olsen, once again I appreciate your letter.  I hope you
will continue to write me, I can use all the friends I can get.
You may count me as one of your supporters, and if there is
anything I can do for you, either now or in the future, please
let me know.
     As to your desire to print my letters, you may do so by all
means.  You may also, you are more than welcome to I should say,
use my name and address.  I would welcome anyone who wishes to
write me.
     I know that this has turned into a bit of a novel, so I will
leave you now.  I hope to hear from you again soon, and I look
forward to going over all of the material you sent me.  Take
care.  Peace.
     Sincerely Yours,
     Johnnie Clements

P.S. Could you tell me more about NORML, how it got started, how
large is the organization, how much time did you do, etc...?

     Johnnie Clements
     Iowa Medical & Classification Center
     Box A
     Oakdale, IA 52319

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