By Serra Frank
LISTEN UP IDAHO!
This is what is happening to sick people who get caught choosing Medical Marijuana in your state.
Last week, I was found GUILTY of 3 counts of possession of Marijuana and 3 counts of possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia.
And this is why I am happy about it…
Throughout the last 13 years of my Cannabis activism, which began in Idaho, I’ve spoken with many people that have been charged with possession of marijuana, and possession of paraphernalia in my home state. I’ve talked to people across the state, and to fellow Idaho refugees I’ve encountered in legal states like Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and California.
I’ve learned the outcome of typical cases when an Idaho marijuana user, quite often a medical user, is sentenced after a guilty plea/verdict in an Idaho Marijuana case.
They are offered/forced into Drug and Alcohol Classes, where they are forced to learn about ALL drugs, despite there not being a need, and told they have a problem with addiction because they choose to use a safer drug than opiates that Idaho doctors prescribe. Or they are told by the educators that they know the Marijuana laws suck, and the information is wrong, but they have to teach the course verbatim, because it’s their job.
They are given dozens of hours of Community Service, where physically disabled and fragile people are forced to serve and give up their precious time and energy, in order to repay the Idaho community for the heinous crime of wanting to feel better.
They may be placed on Probation and supervised by tax payer dollars, in a system that makes money from urine testing it’s citizens, to make sure that they are not, in fact, again using possibly the only medicine that helps them get through each day.
There are also typically Fines, through numerous court costs and restitution fees, including for classes, community service, and probation – taking money from low income individuals who already live on an extremely tight budget – to supposedly to repay our society for a victim-less act.
These “options” are often all given with suspended jail time, and taken to avoid Incarceration, but many end up losing their suspended time through a repeat offense or a dirty UA; and forced to serve a week or two, or even more, in county jails. Larger quantities can result in prison time. With incarceration comes, even more fines, and money paid to the State. And of course it goes to the State, when there isn’t a victim to repay through restitution.
And the very worst for many Idaho patients, a guilty plea/verdict results in being told:
NO MORE MARIJUANA!
Whether that is during incarceration or while under supervision. Or even, as a result of the fear of those things, the deterrent of the sentence works because people cannot afford to be charged again. So they quit using their medicine.
One can imagine the impact that could have upon someone already suffering from an intractable medical condition. Proper medical care isn’t exactly available throughout incarceration.
But even without incarceration, taking away the only medicine that many have been using for years to combat the symptoms of their condition, may likely exacerbate their condition and even have unforeseen complications, resulting in what many would view as cruel and unusual punishment.
Corporal punishment, causing physical pain to someone as punishment for a crime, was ended in the late 18th-early 19th centuries because it was cruel and unusual.
But that is precisely what happens to many Idaho patients forced to end the use of Marijuana to treat numerous painful medical conditions.
Marijuana convictions in Idaho force medical patients to endure the pain and physical suffering of their conditions. It’s either that, or they are forced into exile, and forced to move away from their home. But many choose to stay and violate the law again – because their pain relief and health is more important to them than some 50 year old law based on lies. And the consequences aren’t a deterrent when physical pain is the other option.
Right now I await a sentence of some kind of combination of the above options.
On April 26th, Judge Michael Oths will give me his decision on my punishment for using Marijuana as Medicine in Idaho.
Event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/175976216377472/
So, why am I happy if these are the things I have to look forward to now that I have been found guilty? Especially with 6 similar charges, and a system that wants to make an example out of me?
Because it’s ludicrous.
It’s ludicrous that an imaginary line is the only thing that separates Idaho marijuana policy from it’s western neighbors – where Marijuana is legal for all adults who choose a safer drug than the alcohol that Idaho glorifies.
And it’s ludicrous that on the Idaho side of that line, sick and terminally ill people are being persecuted for merely choosing a better quality of life when our neighbors have had medical marijuana laws on the books for decades.
It’s ludicrous that Idahoans are cited, possibly arrested, and then prosecuted for choosing something that is legal next door. That sick people are thrust into a system where they are treated as criminals for merely choosing a better quality of life.
Whether that is through plea bargain, or trial, a guilty verdict results with already disadvantaged people being under the authority of Idaho courts and the Idaho criminal justice system – a system which does not offer compassion or support for a sick citizen, but only punishment.
It’s ludicrous that I can travel an hour or so away from the very court room in which I was convicted, and legally purchase and consume the very drug for which they have persecuted me.
It’s ludicrous that I was found guilty and I now await sentencing. A sentence that will be imposed, in my eyes, ONLY because the State played dirty.
I have been watching for the last few years, quietly observing first hand how medical marijuana patients are treated in the Idaho criminal justice system.
The State definitely plays dirty.
For whatever reason, the State wants to continue to punish sick people for using Medical Marijuana, at all costs.
Even if it has to play dirty and pervert the justice of our system to do it.
As I wrote about previously, in 1990, Lynn Hastings was awarded the ability to present evidence as to necessity against felony cultivation charges for Marijuana. Lynn suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and used Cannabis to relief inflammation and joint pain. The Supreme Court of Idaho said that it is her right, and the right of Idaho citizens, to present a defense to such Necessity.
But I was denied this defense at court last week. The State, through their prosecutors, did everything possible to ensure that I was not allowed to present the evidence that I have a necessity to use Marijuana in Idaho, despite the Hastings precedence.
Then, the State of Idaho, proceeded to use that necessity against me, knowing full well that I was correct in my request for the defense. They argued to the jury that I felt the laws didn’t apply to me. They told the jury that I think that I am above these laws, but wouldn’t allow me to tell the jury why I felt this way, despite that the argument had already been settled in the Supreme Court in the Hastings case.
The State of Idaho played dirty in court by denying my doctor’s testimony or any of the 16 years of medical history showing the necessity that Marijuana has become in my life because of my extremely painful bladder condition and disability.
The State played dirty by presenting the argument, yet denying mine.
And it is my educated guess, that the state plays dirty all the time.
The State of Idaho has found a way to deny citizens the necessity defense through a recent ruling about a man named Douglas Meyer, a Washington medical marijuana caretaker that provided for a friend, who was transporting medicine from one legal Marijuana state to another, and was arrested in Idaho. Meyer appealed the denial of Necessity Defense and the Supreme Court ruled against him, saying that he could have found a way to refrain from taking Marijuana into Idaho for the mere 8 hours he planned to be there.
But in the ruling on the case, Idaho vs. Meyer, the Supreme Court also gave the authority to determine the elements of the necessity defense to the judge, and I believe that is now being used to prevent sick Idahoans from presenting the necessity defense if they are charged for their medicine.
THIS IS A DIRTY TRICK.
But playing dirty is evil and wrong. And as long as the system is working correctly, playing dirty doesn’t win in the end. Here is the thing about our criminal justice system, and why, despite all of it’s corruption and deceit, I still strongly support it and believe in it.
Because it is designed to protect it’s citizens.
So, the reason I am happy I was found guilty is because I now have an opportunity to challenge these ludicrous laws and maybe actually change something.
I have a chance to challenge the Meyers ruling, and push the Hastings precedence further. I have a chance to protect Idaho’s citizens from The State’s dirty tricks.
I know that had I been allowed Necessity Defense, that I would have been acquitted completely. My jurors were decent and compassionate people.
But I only had two options with this case, and only one option at trial. Necessity Defense and Jury Nullficiation were my only defenses. After being denied the Necessity Defense, I attempted to use Jury Nullficiation to get not guilty verdicts on all of charges. I couldn’t come right out and say it, but instead had to build a story that encouraged it. I did so well, it took the prosecution 3/4 of the day to figure out what I was doing and when it was brought up to the court, it was too late to get a ruling to prevent it. And it worked with the Obstruct and Delay charge!
But I didn’t really try it too hard with the Marijuana charges, for one reason:
If I had been found NOT GUILTY, then the case would be over.
And if the case was over, then I could not challenge the Necessity Defense ruling.
And then sick and suffering Idahoans would continued to be persecuted for their medical choices, without any defense or legal recourse.
And yes, I believe that the sick and suffering people of Idaho should be above the law in this regard.
While it would have been awesome to be able to tell the world that Jury Nullification works in Idaho, the trial occurred, unfortunately, in the lowest court possible… Magistrate Court.
The bottom of the totem pole when it comes to authority of law.
An acquittal wouldn’t have meant anything to really anyone except myself and my family.
It wouldn’t help Idahoans like me who believe that Cannabis saved their life and use it despite the laws, because the other option is nothing but misery.
The only place that matters when challenging an unjust law is in the Supreme Court, where precedence may be set and others may use the ruling in their own defense in the future.
And the only way to get to the Supreme Court is to have a final judgement of guilty from which to appeal the trial courts error of denying the defense, and then start climbing the ladder of appeals.
If the citizens of Idaho are going to have a chance to show that we are compassionate people who believe that our neighbors who are sick and hurting should not be punished for choosing a medicine that works, by saying not guilty when there is necessity – then Idahoans need to have the opportunity to present that necessity to their jury when charged with marijuana crimes.
And now, because of the guilty verdicts, I actually have the opportunity to challenge the dirty tricks that Idaho insists upon playing on it’s citizens. I have the opportunity to appeal.
And I am very happy about that!
So, my adventures in Idaho Weed court continue…
I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued support. More to come!