If you haven’t seen it yet – a Tennessee man has made national news after he lights a joint in court…

Spencer Boston was at a court appearance for charges of simple possession of marijuana. He approached the podium, presumably to plead his case. As the bailiff collects paperwork from the judge’s bench, the judge leans over his desk, and others mill around the courtroom paying no attention – just another boring day in court – Boston pulls a doobie and pack of matches out of his jacket pocket, lights a joint in court, and turns around to address the spectators before a bailiff takes him into custody…


Why Spencer Boston Lights a Joint in Court

Spencer was sentenced to ten days for contempt of court and now has additional charges for simple possession and disorderly conduct. Why did he light a joint in court? Was it a last-ditch attempt to get stoned before going to jail? Is he insane? Or is there something else going on here?

When Spencer attempted to address the courtroom, his message was that marijuana should be legalized – “We the people deserve better,” he said.

When a reporter later asked him if the marijuana was real, he replied, “yes sir – it was very good stuff.” Is he just an extremely difficult defendant, someone to condemn for the lack of respect he showed to the courtroom?

Or is he a hero for the cause of legalizing marijuana, highlighting the lack of respect the courtroom and Tennessee law was showing to him?

One thing is certain – the stunt got national attention and has become, for the moment, a piece of the national discussion about why our government has forbidden its citizens to make use of the marijuana plant and whether our nation’s and our states’ marijuana laws are in desperate need of reform.

While some on social media are commenting that Spencer is a punk kid who deserves the harshest punishment for his flagrant disregard for the law, others are raising money for his legal defense and bond money once his ten-day sentence for contempt of court has been served.

Is the First Amendment a Defense?

Spencer’s charges may not be dismissed by the Court on First Amendment grounds – but shouldn’t they?

He lights a joint in court, not to get high, but to convey a clear message to the court and everyone watching. He is not concealing marijuana for his personal use. There is only one reasonable explanation for why he possesses (and lights up) marijuana in the courtroom on that day – he is expressing a political message to anyone who will listen. Isn’t that the very definition of the First Amendment and what it is intended to protect?

After he lights a joint in court, he verbally articulates the message he wants to convey:

We the people deserve better.

Was the US Constitution Written on Hemp Paper? 

When I was reading about this story on various news sites, I came across several commenters who were pointing out the ridiculousness of our country’s marijuana prohibition in light of the fact that our nation’s Constitution was written on hemp paper.

Is that true? Was the US Constitution written on hemp paper?

Sort of…

It turns out that the actual Constitution was not written on hemp paper:

The Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are currently housed in the National Archives. All three are written on parchment, not hemp paper. Parchment is treated animal skin, typically sheepskin. The Declaration was inked with iron gall ink. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was commissioned to create a system to monitor the physical status of all three. The Charters of Freedom Monitoring System took digital photos of each sheet of parchment in 1987, each document divided into one-inch squares. Over time, the photos are retaken and compared to the original to look for signs of deterioration. Before the charters were recently reencased for display, a small tear in the Declaration was repaired by adding Japanese paper to the gap. This is the only paper in any of the documents. It is, then, inaccurate to say that any of these documents was written on hemp.

But just about everything else at the time the Constitution was drafted was written on hemp paper:

Until 1883, from 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber including paper for books, Bibles, maps, paper money, stocks and bonds, newspaper, etc. The Gutenberg Bible (15th Century); Pantagruel and the Herb Pantagruelion, Rabelais (16th Century); King James Bible (17th Century); Thomas Paine’s pamphlets, “The Rights of Man,” “Common Sense,” “The Age of Reason” (18th Century); the works of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (19th Century); and just about everything else was printed on hemp paper.

Including the first and second drafts of the Declaration of Independence, until the final version was copied onto parchment:

The first draft of the Declaration of Independence (June 28, 1776) was written on Dutch (hemp) paper, as was the second draft completed on July 2, 1776. This was the document actually agreed to on that day and announced and released on July 4, 1776. …On July 19, 1776, Congress ordered the Declaration be copied and engrossed on parchment (a prepared animal skin) and this was the document actually signed by the delegates on August 2, 1776.

Other drafts of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were also most likely written on hemp paper before the final product was copied onto parchment…


Because hemp, non-controversially and for thousands of years, has been used for making paper, sails, clothing, and building materials. Do you think that, for thousands of years, they were only growing low-THC-content hemp? Or, were they also stuffing the buds in their pipes as they harvested the stalks for industrial purposes?

SC Marijuana Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach

What’s our advice to Mr. Boston and like-minded individuals? You should not light a joint during your court appearance for possession of marijuana.

However, if you do choose to engage in an act of civil disobedience in protest of what you believe is an unjust law, get legal advice from a defense attorney as soon as possible. Your Myrtle Beach, SC marijuana defense lawyer at Coastal Law has years of experience defending drug crimes including marijuana offenses.

If you have been charged with manufacturing marijuana, distribution of marijuana, trafficking marijuana, or even just simple possession of marijuana, we want to help. Call now at (843) 488-5000 or send us an email to speak with a defense lawyer today.

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