Casey William Hardison

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Casey William Hardison (born July 5, 1971) is an American chemist and self-described medical anthropologist convicted in the United Kingdom in 2005 of six offenses under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 involving psychedelic drugs: three of production, two of possession, and one of exportation.[1][2] He is seen as something of an exemplar for the entheogenic movement.[3]

Background and beliefs[edit]

Hardison is committed to the idea of cognitive liberty or freedom of thought, the right to direct one's consciousness as one sees fit. For Hardison this includes the use of tools or technologies, particularly psychedelic substances, for consciousness exploration and psychological transformation (entheogenics).[3][4]

Activism and research[edit]

Hardison has been involved in research and activism, as recorded and reported by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization conducting trials and studies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for psychedelic research in humans, including treating posttraumatic stress disorder, pain, drug dependence, and anxiety and depression associated with end-of-life issues.[5] Hardison has taken a leading role in workshops on entheogenic drugs, their plant sources and history.[6] In 2008 he helped found the Drug Equality Alliance, a non-profit organization working to secure equal rights and equal protections for all drug users.[7]

Unauthorized activities[edit]

Hardison was engaged in the unauthorized manufacture of several psychedelic-type drugs, namely 2C-B, DMT and LSD, after moving to Brighton in 2002.[8] He had set up a laboratory in his back bedroom, and using £38,386 worth of chemical ingredients produced "hallucinogenic tablets with a value of up to £5m".[9] It was alleged later in court that he had come to the UK in order to conduct these activities because the US has become 'too hot', and that he was seeking to make money.[1]

Arrest[edit]

In July 2003, Hardison mailed two parcels containing MDMA, an empathogen, and an unnamed controlled substance to the United States. The Court heard that the drugs were hidden between pages of the magazine Private Eye. Most reports indicate that the packages were opened in a routine inspection.[8][9] Following communication from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the British authorities elected to monitor Hardison until he was arrested in February 2004, at the Sanctuary Cafe in Hove, near Brighton.[9]

In the courts[edit]

The case represented a successful cooperation between multiple agencies from both the United States and the United Kingdom, leading to a complex court case for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).[9] The case against Hardison was made more unusual by his decision to represent himself in court and argue, on human rights grounds, that "taking psychoactive drugs was an innocent act and the only crime he had committed was against the state". These issues combined to lead to the case being one of only three highlighted in the annual report of Sussex CPS.[2]

Pre-trial arguments[edit]

Employing human rights based arguments, Hardison asserted his right to freedom of thought and freedom from discrimination[3]

Hardison challenged the administration of the law itself as an abuse of process, citing the lack of evidence and rationale for UK government decisions to control and classify certain psychoactive drugs as more harmful than others, particularly alcohol and tobacco, under the system of classes A, B and C in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.[3]

Hardison reasoned to the court that since drug control and classification restricts liberty and determines the corresponding punishments associated with the unauthorized use, trade and/or production of any particular dangerous or otherwise harmful drug listed in the schedule 2 of Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but the two most prevalent harmful drugs, alcohol and tobacco, are excluded from the schedule on irrational grounds, his prosecution denied him equality under the law and was a form of majoritarian discrimination.

Hardison argued that the UK government is unable to show that the regulations and sanctions applied to his activities are 'necessary in a democratic society', as human rights law requires, if the same regulations and sanctions were not also associated with alcohol and tobacco activities.[3] The prosecution responded that Hardison was unable to discharge the evidential burden on him to show a prima facie abuse of process and that the court should not involve itself in what appears a political question. After hearing both sides, the judge ruled against Hardison's human rights arguments, forbidding him to put them to the jury.[10]

Trial and conviction[edit]

After a two-month trial in early 2005, The jury found Hardison guilty. The judge said that Hardison had knowingly and flagrantly broke UK law and that he had come to the UK to take advantage of a softer attitude to drugs, engaging in his manufacturing and supply activities intending to make financial gain. He was said to have boasted that kids in the UK were 'hungry' for a drug known as '2CI', which he was allegedly in the UK to produce. However, the prosecution were unable to prove to the jury that he had made 2C-I. He is believed to have sent some of the profits of his drug manufacturing activities to his father, who used it to buy and refit a 33-foot trimaran sailboat.[1][11]

Sentence[edit]

In April 2005, Hardison was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment in the UK for producing a variety of psychotropics, purported to be entheogenic drugs (specifically LSD, 2CB and DMT).[2][8]

Appeals[edit]

On 29 June 2006 Hardison's first application for leave to appeal against conviction and his appeal against sentence to the Court of Appeal were rejected and the conviction and sentence were upheld.

He still claims the charges are a violation of his human rights and describes himself as being victim of the "chemical apartheid". Justice Kieth of the Court of Appeal[12] was quoted as saying "This was not an amateurish operation in a garden shed. It was a sophisticated and calculated attempt to introduce synthetic drugs in the UK market, which could have reaped great financial rewards."

Hardison was refused a final appeal against sentence at the House of Lords, the highest court in the UK, and his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights also failed to get a hearing.

However, on 13 August 2009 Hardison filed a new appeal against conviction based on new evidence that the UK Government has abused the legal discretions contained within the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, particularly section 2(5), and that this abuse gives rise to severe inequality of treatment.[3][13]

Release[edit]

After nine years, three months, two weeks, and three days, the United Kingdom released Casey from prison on May 29, 2013.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "DIY chemist jailed for 20 years". BBC. 22 April 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "R v Casey Hardison" (PDF). CPS Sussex Annual Report 2004-2005: p. 6. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Erowid Casey William Hardison Vault". Erowid. 2 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  4. ^ Hardison, Casey (Summer 2007). "(A Brief History and) Motivation of an Entheogenic Chemist". Drugs and Alcohol Today 7 (2): p. 5. doi:10.1108/17459265200700013. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  5. ^ Hardison, Casey (Summer 2000). "An Amateur Qualitative Study of 48 2C-T-7 Subjective Bioassays". Bulletin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) 10 (2): p. 11. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  6. ^ Shulgin, Dr Alexander (28 June 2001). "2C-T-7". Ask Dr Shulgin. Centre for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics (COLE). Retrieved 2007-08-12. "This was a survey conducted by Casey Hardison with users who attended an ethnopharmacologic workshop in Southern Mexico…" 
  7. ^ "Drug Equality Alliance - Background". 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  8. ^ a b c Cridland, Ali (21 January 2005). "Drugs wizard gets 20 years". Brighton Argus. p. 1. 
  9. ^ a b c d "DIY chemist guilty of making drug". BBC. 18 March 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  10. ^ "R v Casey Hardison" (PDF). HMCS Lewes Crown Court. Jan 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  11. ^ "The trimaran Windwalker". Barefoot's World. 21 March 2003. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  12. ^ "R v Casey Hardison" (PDF). HMCS Court of Appeal of England and Wales. 25 May 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  13. ^ "UK Government drugs policy unlawful". Indymedia. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 

External links[edit]