NEW JERSEY: The Libertarian candidate for state Senate in the 14th District was arrested on marijuana possession charges in Philadelphia on Saturday, his second pot arrest in four months.
East Windsor resident Don DeZarn, 46, was arrested at SmokeDown Prohibition VIII, a monthly marijuana legalization rally organized by the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. DeZarn, who was previously arrested on possession charges at a NORML rally in May, described both incidents as acts of civil disobedience.
“The theme of my campaign is ‘Legalize Freedom.’ I’m big on a less intrusive government,” DeZarn said toay. “Marijuana legalization ties into the whole message I’m trying to get out to voters, that our government is too big. We’ve got way more important problems we should be dealing with than worrying about a group of 67 people, 10 of which are firing up a joint.”
As is typical at NORML rallies, supporters lit up at 4:20 p.m. as a way to honor those arrested on charges of marijuana possession.
DeZarn has pleaded guilty to the May charge and paid a $150 fine, but said he will “mount a vigorous defense” against the new charge.
“I’m fully committed to this fight and I have no plans to back down now,” DeZarn said. “As a very wise man told me once, if you aren’t willing to stand up and fight for your rights, then who will?”
Because the arrest is DeZarn’s second on the same charge, he will face a mandatory court appearance in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. He faces a federal charges because he was arrested at Independence Mall, a national historic park.
DeZarn is running in the November election against Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Peter Inverso, a Republican who held the same seat from 1992 to 2007.
He is on a ticket with two other Libertarians from East Windsor, Assembly candidates Sean O’Connor and Steven Uccio, who are challenging Assemblymen Dan Benson and Wayne DeAngelo (both D-Hamilton). The Republican candidates are Steve Cook of Hamilton and Ron Haas of Monroe.
DeZarn has said his campaign will focus in part on cutting property taxes and on increasing government transparency by giving citizens easier access to public records.
But he has been most vocal in his support for reform of marijuana laws, suggesting that the drug be taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol, with bans on smoking in public or while driving, to bring in new tax revenue and save on prosecution and incarceration costs.
He admitted today that his stance on marijuana legalization may be overshadowing his other campaign positions but said it had also brought him additional voter support. His campaign has seen a steady stream of donations since his most recent arrest, he said.