By Serra Frank
Let's smoke this joint in honor of a new year of progress in Idaho, in the hopes of new laws based on science, logic, compassion and freedom!
Laws that don't persecute sick parents for treating themselves, or any parent for treating their sick child.
Laws that don't incarcerate anyone for making a safer choice than using the already State approved drugs...
Alcohol, Tobacco and Pharmaceuticals.
Laws that will save Idaho's children, grow Idaho's agriculture, and boost Idaho's economy.
Let's smoke this joint in honor of Idaho.
Oh wait, we can't smoke it...
Because it's now in an evidence locker owned by the Idaho State Police.
For the last few months, Idaho Moms for Marijuana has planned a New Year Smoke Out on the Idaho State Capitol steps. We are beginning a tradition of rallying for freedom on the 1st Day of the year.
This tradition first began on January 1st, 2011, when we held a Willie Nelson Smoke Out on Front Street in downtown Boise. That event went off without a hitch, even with officers from the Boise City Police Department's Joint Terrorism Task Force present.
We literally put our Marijuana use on Front St. We rolled joints on the garbage cans, and smoked them to our heart's desire as the local media recorded the festivities. The police stated they didn't smell anything but tobacco, and we told them that doesn't help our cause.
A few drug counselors even showed up to protest our protest, claiming they were "Dads Against Marijuana" and lodging the same outdated rebuttal as most prohibitionists - "Marijuana is a gateway."
But this year was different. The Capitol building seemed like a better statement than Front St.
So we organized it and invited everyone using social media and a very pretty flyer.
Just before Christmas, I was contacted by the Idaho State Police (ISP) to begin a dialogue about the rally. Unlike with Front Street, which was covered by Boise City Police, the Capitol was under the jurisdiction of the State Police. Lieutenant Brad Doty told me that this year may not be like the previous experience we had with Boise City.
Well, what could possibly be different? This time we could get arrested? That's kind of the point of the entire idea of an act of civil disobedience. The willingness to be arrested to help raise awareness about the issue.
I invited him to join us, as we had the Boise Police when they contacted us in 2011, and welcomed their presence and their discretion.
A few days later, I was arrested as a passenger in a vehicle during a traffic stop (no tail lights). My charge is for obstruction of a police officer which is a separate issue that I will address at another time, but during this arrest, I was also cited for possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
So, to me, it now mattered even less if I was arrested and cited for my participation in acts of civil disobedience on the Capitol Steps. I'm already gonna be fighting these law either way, and the worst that could happen is that I could be arrested. Shortly after sending out our press release about the rally, I was contacted by Adam Cotterell from Boise State Public Radio.
I met with him and participated in an interview that aired on December 30th.
Then on my birthday (December 31st), Jake Thomas from the Spokane Inlander contacted me for an interview for their blog.
I had a great New Year's Eve/Birthday and passed out a ton of flyers for the Smoke Out while I was downtown Boise. I woke up on New Year's Day feeling confident everything was going to happen exactly as it was supposed to that day.
And I really believe it did.
When I arrived downtown Boise there were at least a dozen ISP cars parked on 6th St, along the side of the Capitol building. Several others were parked in front of the building and on the road under the Capitol steps. I had expected a few officers, but this was ridiculous. My first thought was, "Well, we definitely caught some attention." My second... "what a cheap trick to try to prevent civil disobedience over an unjust law."
I waited a while for the others to get there, watching little groups of ISP troopers walking around the capitol. I knew these officers were going to prevent a large number of people from showing up. The fear of persecution that is instilled into the community because of these laws is definitely one of the most repugnant aspects of Cannabis prohibition.
So, I was surprised to see quite a few supporters when we arrived at the Capitol. And a lot of reporters.
I spoke with a few people as I waited to find Lieutenant Doty. I had made him a packet of information in the hopes of provide resources for him to begin his own journey in Cannabis education.
When he finally arrived, I introduced myself and gave him the packet. We discussed the intentions of the rally, and the intentions of the Idaho State Police. He said that as long as we cooperated there was the possibility of them issuing written citations rather than arresting anyone. I told him we would be very grateful to not be arrested and taken to jail. I went back and told my group of the possibility of the citations over arrest, and told them it was okay if I was the only one who lit up and accepted the citation.
The rally began as a press conference, with me reciting half of my already written speech in response to the questions from the media. I don't think I have ever had so many cameras in my face, and anyone who knows me personally knows that is one of my least favorite things. (I'd much rather be on the other side of the camera, taking the video and asking the questions.)
I told them all about my illness and my medical use of Cannabis.
I shared my fears about Child Protective Services and my recent arrest over marijuana.
Once the reporters were done with their questions, I decided I would just give my speech to the supporters, and walked up onto the capitol steps.
I didn't recite the entire thing, as it was freezing cold and most had already been discussed with the reporters. I skipped around my pre-written speech, and delved into civil disobedience and the need for reform of Idaho's harmful laws to the audience that was steadily growing in front of me.
I watched as more and more people began walking up to the Captitol steps. The group in front of me grew from just a couple dozen to over 50 and consisted of members of my groups, supporters and onlookers, ISP troopers, and many members of media.
As I was getting to the end of my speech, and began to pull out my bag to light the joint, I noticed two ISP troopers making their way up the steps, attempting to push past some of the supporters.
The energy surrounding them and the look on their faces made me feel as if I was about to be tackled if I pulled it out of my bag. Looking at the concrete steps at my feet, and already feeling pain from not having enough medicine that day, I decided I really didn't wish to be forcibly detained on the Capitol steps over a joint.
So, I interrupted my speech to ask them what was going on.
They said that I could not light the joint. I asked, "You aren't even going to let me?" to which one responded, "We CAN'T let you light it."
Puzzled that they had been told not to let me light it, and intrigued by who it was exactly that told them to not let me light it, I decided to just cooperate and not be forcibly detained in my attempt to commit the act of civil disobedience that to many may seem extremely insignificant.
It's just a joint. It's just marijuana. No one was going to get hurt... except maybe me by being tackled on the Capitol steps.
It was just a joint... literally made up of flowers from a nontoxic plant, safer than the tobacco sold in stores across the Valley.
I was going to light a flower on fire, not light off a bomb and yet I was being treated as if I were a dangerous person who needed to be forcibly prevented from lighting what was in my hand.WHY the excessive use of police resources and threat of force to prevent something so menial? Which only increases the validity of the question we were asking by hosting the rally in the first place... EXACTLY WHO ARE WE HURTING?
I asked the officers if I could at least finish my speech and they allowed it. I willfully, and civilly, disobey. So, I did, and instead of lighting the joint at the end of the speech, or even pulling it out of my bag because of the new fear of being suddenly attacked by the ISP to retrieve the joint from me, I just handed the bag over as I said "I willfully, and civilly disobey."
The officers took the bag, looked into it. The male officer said out loud, "yep, I see a marijuana in there", and the female officer began to lead me down the steps. I willingly went with her.
She was very quick, and I tried to keep pace as she led me down the stairs and into the Capitol building as the crowd shouted their support and love. I heard a God Bless You Serra, and several I love you's from my friends. I felt very strange as I realized we were being followed by numerous cameras.
I'm a little slow due to my disability, and the officers were kind enough to stop once we were inside the building, to catch my breath and rest a moment from the pain of my condition.
They even allowed several volunteers with cameras and some of the media to accompany us in the elevator and down stairs. However, they did stop them at the door of a Visitor's Welcome room, where they led me inside to where almost another dozen ISP troopers were waiting for me.
At the end of the room, sitting at a table, were four officers, obviously superiors to the ones escorting me into the building. I said hello to them and took a seat in the first row of chairs directly in front of their table. The other officers began going through my things and discussed what was found as a couple of the officers sitting at the table began asking me questions.
Some of the questions were generic, about how long I've lived in Idaho, and about my address and such. But there were several that kept asking questions, not about the rally or what I was attempting to do, but about Marijuana itself.
One of the questions was about Marijuana use during pregnancy. I was able to discuss with him the studies conducted by Dr. Melanie Dreher, Dean of Nursing at the University of Illinois.
I mentioned Dr. Dreher's 30+ year long study into the effects of Cannabis Use during Pregnancy by Jamaican women, and how she found that the babies of Cannabis consuming mothers were more advanced and more easily soothed than the ones of those who didn't use it during pregnancy.
I told them I truly believed that once all the prohibition crap was out of the way, and research is allowed, Cannabis use will become as common for pregnant women as prenatal vitamins because of all the benefits it truly has during pregnancy, including nutrition, stress reduction, and mental health.
Another question was about Marijuana use in Children, and would I use it for my own children? I told them a little about Lilly, since they hadn't been outside during my speech. I told them about the toxicity of Marijuana and how it's safer than most drugs we give to children these days, but what I really want to be able to do is juice it for my own children.
Which of course led to the next question regarding intoxication of the child, and I explained that juicing it would be very beneficial as it avoided that completely. I explained decarboxylation and the need to heat Cannabis to turn the THCA into THC for it to become psychoative. I explained the numerous other compounds found in Cannabis, other than THC and CBD, and the need for access to all those beneficial compounds.
Our conversation lasted for quite a while, delving into Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the failed War on Drugs, among other things.
It ended with two misdemeanor citations from them to me, and an invitation from me for them to attend New Approach Idaho's upcoming Marijuana Town Hall Meeting.
I explained that we feel it is really important to give all members of the community the ability to be heard so we can address and attend to any concerns about our petition that might be brought to light.The officers told me to send the information to Lt. Doty when we have it confirmed and they would likely be able to attend, gave me a couple citations, and let me go.
I was impressed by the professionalism and the respect from the Idaho State Police, especially compared to my recent encounters with local law enforcement. I have never had the undivided attention of so many law enforcement officials and my hope for that day was that it helped to plant a seed in each of their minds of the need for reform of these laws.
It is true, you really do only support prohibition until you do the research, and if I was able to reach even just one of those officers merely by being in that room that day, and that officer begins his/her own research, then it was all worth the effort. Including the citations and everything else that is about to happen in the coming year.
But of course my hope is to reach so many more than just one.
And there is nothing that can stop me from trying.
I am now facing two misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges and two misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia charges. I only see this as an opportunity to finally take these outdated and harmful laws to court to be judged. And I plan to, very publicly, keep everyone updated on what happens, and how the system uses Marijuana to persecute non-violent, disabled people.
After the rally, and the news stories, I was contacted by dozens of people, all thanking me and supporting my effort to raise awareness about this unjust law. I was even told by several attendees that the police were so focused on me, that they didn't even notice that joints were being lit behind their backs.
So, while I didn't get to smoke my joint on the capitol steps, and it will now be used as evidence in an attempt to prosecute me under Idaho's harmful and unjust Marijuana laws, there were those who expressed their own acts of civil disobedience and my actions helped that happen without recourse on them. All worth it!
While some of the news say we canceled the rally, that is definitely not true. It was more I was forced to not light the joint, but the smell of freedom was at the Idaho State Capitol, whether the ISP noticed it or not.
I really appreciate everyone's support, especially those who took the time to brave the cold, and especially those who lit up their joints anyway. I wish I could have joined you.
It is only through our individual actions and words that real compassion will find it's place within Idaho's borders and real progress will occur.
I've been asked how people can help donate to the individual progress I am trying to make in Idaho, as opposed to donating to New Approach Idaho.
Many have even offered to donate for an attorney if I set up a way to do so. My plan is to fight these charges Pro Se, but only because I cannot afford an attorney and this must be fought one way or another.
This is about changing the future for generations to come, so I will accept if anyone does wish to help hasten the progress I am attempting to make with my individual actions in Idaho.
I will use any donations to help bring progress to Idaho through my current opportunities and various networks and outlets. If enough is donated, I'll hire an attorney to help.
Anyone who wishes to donate, can do so at this link -www.gofundme.com/progressidaho
Thank you for your Love and Support!
Source: 420 Mommy Blog - syndicated with special permission