It was 1979 …

Vietnam Veteran Charles Hadd, Jr. was facing an enemy with a weapon that could destroy his life: Pima County Judge Benjamin Birdsall was about to sentence Chuck to hard time in prison for marijuana trafficking. Hadd fought back the only way he knew how: by writing.

Things weren’t looking good for Chuck. It was Hadd’s 2nd marijuana offense, his prospects seemed bleak. “I had made no bones about the fact I was providing a service,” Hadd laughs. “I had no illusions as to what my prospects might be.”

Hadd may now be able to laugh at the memories of his trial more than 30 yrs ago, but at the time his life was in the balance. “They tell you to write a letter to the judge. It’s expected, but I don’t think they were expecting this one. In the cell of course I had to write the whole thing out long-hand and get it to my lawyer and he had to type it up and get it back to the judge on time. Which he did, I appreciated that. Then I was led into the court and Birdsall gave me my nickel.”

Hadd had been sentenced to five years.

Tough lipped, Chuck doesn’t give away too many details of the ordeal, ineligible for parole due to drug court sentencing of the time, Hadd was released after four years and six months behind bars. “They had a program of letting everyone out six months early and then expected me to go through their probation nonsense. I was not inclined to comply,” Hadd laughs. ”What could they do? They couldn’t put me back.”

Despite serving a prison sentence for selling marijuana, Chuck Hadd, Jr. has gone on to earn a journalism degree from ASU, and been one of Arizona’s most dedicated foot soldiers fighting the war on the war on drugs. A founder of AZ4NORML, the original Arizona NORML chapter, Hadd put his journalism degree to good use and published The Homegrown Update, AZ4NORML’s 90s newsletter and is a longtime member of Veterans for Peace.

If you have been working on cannabis reform Arizona for any length you may have already read Hadd’s famous 1979 letter to his judge. It has been circulated repeatedly by every new generation of activists seeking insight into facing up to the immense injustice of prohibition. Recently w the renewed interest by the reformers in the AZFMR movement, Chuck asked NORML if we would be willing to reprint this seminal letter the way we are already reprinting issues of The Homegrown Update. There was no hesitation in saying yes.

If you haven’t read it, click on the link below. It won’t take you long to figure out why Chuck Hadd and his famous letter continue to inspire. We would also like to thank Jason Hein of Arizonans for Mindful Regulation for helping renew interest in this powerful indictment of the injustice of the justice system.

Hadd 1979 letter