Friday, April 27, 2018

Officially Banned from Idaho? - My Adventures in Weed Court Continue (pt.5)


Yesterday, I was sentenced by Ada County Magistrate Judge, Michael Oths, after being convicted by Jury Trial on March 7th, 2018, for three counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana), and three counts of Possession of Paraphernalia.

See My Adventures in Weed Court 1, 2, 3 & 4.

I was greatly blessed to have received 16 thoughtful character references from my family, friends, and other activists I've worked with over the years. The judge had received 12 of them through the e-file system of Idaho's iCourt, but had not received the last 4. 

I provided both the judge and the prosecutor with courtesy copies I had prepared on the risk the last minute additions had not been received. Judge Oths took the time to go through each and make sure he had received each. Then he read the ones that he had not received as the entire court room sat in silence.

The prosecutor representing the State of Idaho, through the Ada County Prosecutor, was Enrique Gutierrez, who had also been part of my trial. He was very kind as he gave his sentencing recommendations to the court. He was adamant that the State was not requesting jail time and he made it very clear that he did not believe that I am a bad person.

Enrique said that jail time was obviously not going to deter me from using Marijuana. He referenced the affidavits of my friends and family. He also mentioned that I now live in Oregon, where Marijuana is legal. He mentioned it was my right to rally and protest, but asked for unsupervised probation with jail time held over my head to attempt to deter me from violating Idaho law again. He suggested that I could use Marijuana at my home, now in Oregon where it is legal, but if I come to Idaho, I shouldn't be violating the law.

Enrique also requested that I reimburse the "victims" of my cases (Ada County Sheriff and the Idaho State Police) for the time and lab testing associated with my cases. He asked for $1,000 fine, with $250 suspended, to cover the costs of the thirty something police officers that attended the first Idaho Moms for Marijuana smoke out, plus more fines for lab fees, police testimony, and expert testimony from the chemists. He also very kindly suggested using the paraphernalia charges for the probation sentence to make certain I didn't have to complete the mandatory community service hours that comes with drug convictions in Idaho.

When it was my turn to provide the defense's recommendations, I told the judge that I felt it was his discretion. I talked about civil disobedience and about willingly accepting any consequences determined by the court, because it was my moral obligation to violate these harmful laws to raise awareness of the need for change in my home state.

Judge Oths then gave his judgement on my sentence.

He mentioned that I had been acquitted of some of the charges during trial (Obstruct & Delay).

He discussed my character references, and commented on the speech I had given during the first Smoke Out protest, part of which he had allowed to be played during my trial. He said that I had been respectful of the police when they asked me not to light the joint, and of the court while I represented myself during the proceedings. He also mentioned that I had been responsible by encouraging people to not bring their children to the smoke out.

Judge Oths pointed out that the protests had been peaceful which is definitely my right to freedom of speech. He said that during court, and the protests, I behaved like an adult and thanked me for my respect. He said he just thought I was going about it the wrong way and that I needed to have the threat of jail as part of my sentence, so that I would be deterred from violating Idaho law again. 

Judge Oths did agree with Enrique that I should have to pay the restitution to my so-called "victims" for the lab costs, but he didn't agree that I should have to pay for the presence of law enforcement at the protest, because they were going to be there regardless of if I was charged.

The official sentence was:

- 2 years unsupervised probation to run concurrent for all 6 charges,
with the condition of NO NEW CRIMES

- $100 fine to the Ada County Sheriff for the first case (where I was a passenger in a vehicle)
- 90 days for each charge in the first case for a total of 180 days (all suspended)

- $382.87 fine to the Idaho State Police for the 2nd & 3rd cases (New Years Smoke Outs)
- 180 days for each charge for a total of 720 days (all suspended)

- ZERO COURT COSTS!

So in total, $482.87 in restitution, and exactly 900 days held over my head, unsupervised, for 2 years.

(Commonly, probation violations may also be ordered to run concurrent so if I was to violate and be found guilty, it could be as little as 180 days, or as much as 3 years, depending on the judge's discretion.)

The sentence is definitely less demanding than the sentence recommendations that the original plea offer had promised had I just plead guilty to everything in the first case (obstruct & delay, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia) - (see original offer) - which included 100 hours community service plus supervision costs $$$, and drug and alcohol classes + more costs $$$ (that I likely wouldn't pass because I would not be able to refrain from arguing against the lies they teach about Marijuana and I hear that is required.) Not to mention the addition of the other charges and any plea agreement had I taken it.

Then the Judge did something that completely took me by surprise.

In addition to filing the character reference affidavits I had received, I had also filed a Motion to Stay the Execution of the Sentence pending my planned appeal of the convictions.

I had expected the motion to be denied. I figured, as with my pretrial motions for appeal, it would be denied and I would have to ask the District Court or even the Supreme Court to stay my sentence when I appealed. I wasn't even sure that was going to work either and I knew there was a possibility that I would have to complete the sentence prior to having my appeal determined by the Idaho Appellate Court.

When asked about it, Enrique said I was premature to ask because I had filed it prior to being sentenced. He said that for the appeals, he wanted a clean record and wanted me to file a new one. (I'd filed it early, with combined motion for appeal bond/release - on attorney recommendation, in the hopes to prevent any immediate jail time should the judge have chosen that for my sentence.)

But Judge Oths granted my motion to stay!

He said that I preserved the record well for appeal, and that it was definitely a question of law regarding whether or not the court erred in denying me the Necessity Defense.

He even said he would create his own order for it so that it was a clean record for the appeal, and I didn't have to write a new one.

Meaning, once he creates that order, the entire sentence is stayed (stopped) until I receive a decision on my appeals. Including in the Idaho Supreme Court.

My family has retained an appellate attorney for me to begin the process. I now have Dennis Benjamin Esq. of  NEVIN, BENJAMIN, McCAY & BARTLETT , representing me for my appeals. After court, my new attorney impressed me by immediately filing the Notice of Appeal, just as I had asked. 

Which also immediately stayed the sentence for at least 14 days, pursuant to IRCP 83.

So, because of the immediate stay and the order the Judge has promised, I don't have to pay a dime, and my probation does not begin, until I have exhausted all appeal options.

And that's good.

Because according to the sentence I have been given, once it begins, I will be officially banned from Idaho under threat of arrest and, at max, almost 3 years in jail.

I will be essentially exiled for 2 years. 
All because I choose a better quality of life.

I don't think that the gentlemen at court yesterday knew what that sentence really meant for my life.

Both have shown themselves to be very good people, who are merely in positions of authority that must enforce Idaho law. I don't believe either truly agrees with Idaho's marijuana laws, just like majority of the people in the State.

And I definitely don't believe it was Judge Oths who made the decision to deny me the Necessity Defense. 

After getting to know Judge Oths during my trial, I truly believe that it was a higher up somewhere that had their hand in that one. Someone put their foot down and is forcing me to appeal and climb the ladder of courts if I want to use that defense. 

So, challenge accepted. I definitely will.

But I don't think that either Judge Oths, or Enrique, really understand what the sentence that was given truly means for me and my life, if I lose my appeals.

What I think they see:

No jail time was given. No community service. A great deal for 6 charges. Just pay some money and please stop protesting by trying to smoke joints at the capitol and leave your marijuana at home in Oregon.

The reality:

I am in exile. For good as a citizen, until Idaho changes their laws.

For 2 years in person, at least, I cannot even visit my family if I am to follow the requirements of probation. 

I cannot even cross the border. 

WHY?   -- Because I am a medical marijuana patient. 

Despite the denial of the defense, I still have necessity to use Marijuana.
Every single day. Multiple times a day.
It is necessary for me to use Marijuana to even get out of bed and move.
It is necessary for me to use Marijuana to be able to function in a normal way.
And it is definitely necessary to be able to care for my family.

What I think the gentlemen in that court didn't even realize is that because of Idaho's harmful marijuana laws, I broke the law every single time they saw me. I would not have even been able to even get to court, or present my own case, if I had not violated the law every time I left my house the entire time I lived in Idaho. 

It was necessary for me to use marijuana to even be able to repeatedly drive my car and to go stand in court. I couldn't have done it without Cannabis. Much less, would I have been able to represent myself in a 10 hour trial, or even be at sentencing yesterday. Or even have the ability and the time to write and submit any of my own paperwork.

I am officially disabled for a reason.
A very real reason.

And even now, living in Oregon, I break the law just by driving over the border to visit home. Even if I leave my medicine at home.

I was breaking the law merely standing in front of the judge while I was being sentenced yesterday.

Because, despite the court's disagreement, out of Necessity, I MUST BREAK IDAHO LAW to even set foot in Idaho. 

Because I am sick and Marijuana is my medicine.

According to Idaho Statute Title 37, Chapter 27 §37-2732C:

"It is unlawful for any person on a public roadway, on a public conveyance, on public property or on private property open to the public, to use or be under the influence of any controlled substance."

In order to go anywhere in Idaho, I MUST be under the influence of Marijuana.

Because in order to go anywhere at all, I MUST be under the influence of Marijuana.
Physical and medical necessity caused by my disability dictates these very certain terms.

I also must usually carry my medicine with me because it is used as needed and sometimes that need is abrupt and spontaneous because of the symptoms of my condition. It's either that, or I am forced to deal with immediate, extremely debilitating pain, among other physical complications.

I must carry my medicine, the same way people with most medical conditions carry their medicine, or I could be, what I call, "grounded" and unable to move.

So, if I lose my appeals and my sentence begins, then I will be guilty of violating my probation if I go to home, because it is a crime just for me to enter the state of Idaho. A crime I civilly and willfully disobey all of the time right now, because it is MY HOME and I have a right to be there. An imaginary line shouldn't decide if I can see my family.

If I am on probation, supervised or not, every time I enter, I will be in violation of that probation because I always have active marijuana metabolites in my system (and have had them in my system, daily, for the last 14 years), which is committing a new crime.

With almost 3 years of jail time over my head, that would officially put me in exile in order to truly submit to the terms of that probation. 

Officially banned from Idaho for choosing a better quality of life.

I wouldn't be able to go home for 2 years.
No holidays with my family.
No visiting my friends.
No taking my kids camping in Idaho's amazing forests.
No concerts or festivals.
No activism or rallying to change Idaho laws.
No visiting my mother's grave.
No crossing the border at all if I am truly going to be compliant with the terms of that probation.

But I will fight for my right to go home.

My adventures in Weed Court are definitely far from over.

And by granting a stay of sentence, Judge Oths has given me, at least, a little more time to fight back without violating the terms and being banished from my home for my choice in a nontoxic medicine.

So we are on to appeals, with the hopes of challenging and changing Idaho's Necessity Defense precedence back to what it should be - allowed in jury trial for all of Idaho's marijuana patients.

Thank you for your continued love & support!

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

My family has retained Dennis Benjamin as my appellate attorney, but does not have the ability to pay anything beyond the retainer. Mr. Benjamin charges $250 an hour, and is rumored to be one of the best appellate attorneys in Boise. He has been given $5,000 to start.

That really only equals out to 20 hours, and by the time transcripts required for appeal are paid, the amount of hours available will be much less.

Once that money runs out, it's done, and I will have to represent myself again.
And I will if I must.

I truly believe that we can actually make some changes in Idaho courts, so this will happen either way. But the longer I can keep Mr. Benjamin, the better.

Many have offered to help by donating. If anyone wishes to do so, they can donate at this fundraising campaign, or to me directly through PayPal, with my email address - serrafrank678@gmail.com

~~

HELP LEGALIZE IDAHO!

Legalize Idaho is a new, collaborated, community effort to reform Idaho's archaic Marijuana laws.
GET INVOLVED TODAY!

Learn more at www.legalizeidaho.org
#LegalizeIdaho

~~

Join Idaho Moms for Marijuana for the 4th Annual NEW YEARS SMOKE OUT!!
PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR AND JOIN US IN SUPPORT!
Help us demand reform of Idaho's laws!

Because prosecution isn't ever going to stop us from protesting.
And someday soon, we will light up on the Idaho Capitol steps!

~~

Follow me on Facebook to stay up to date with My Adventures in Weed Court
www.facebook.com/fourtwentymommy




Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why I am HAPPY I was found GUILTY... My Adventures in Weed Court pt. 4


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.

See My Adventures in Weed Court pt. 1, pt. 2, & pt. 3


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!
#LegalizeIdaho




Friday, February 16, 2018

DENIED A DEFENSE - My Adventures in Weed Court Pt.3


In 1990, a Coeur d'Alene, Idaho woman, Lynn Hastings, won the right to challenge drug charges against her on grounds that she used marijuana out of medical necessity for rheumatoid arthritis.

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled: "We hold that Lynn Hastings is entitled to present evidence at trial on the common law defense of necessity. It is for the trier of fact to determine whether or not she has met the elements of that defense."

For the last year, I've been fighting for the right to present the same defense in Ada County.
(Boise, Idaho).


First, through the public defender's office - who, I found out recently, only submitted a 3 page argument and a 3 page affidavit from my expert witness, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal.

After the public defender's office juggled me through 3 different attorneys, and had horrible communication issues, I gave up on an adequate defense through them and found a paid attorney who was willing to accept payments - Tom Curl.

Tom represented me at the hearing for the Necessity Defense in March, 2017. He didn't even have a copy of the motion that the public defender's office had filed because they refused to give him a copy of the file; and neither of us had any knowledge as to the contents and arguments of the motion.

Tom did a very good job with nothing from which to argue. The judge, Michael Oths, took copies of some limited medical records, and Dr. Sunil's curriculum vitae and said he'd send us his ruling.

I appeared in court again in June 2017, and when asked about the Necessity Defense order, the judge said he'd ruled on it the month prior.

For the next few months, I was told that Tom was writing a request to reconsider the Necessity Defense in an effort to try to get an opportunity to provide more evidence of my medical condition, disability, and necessity to the court.

When it didn't happen, I realized our case strategies were very different and I was still not being heard by the court. I requested that Tom be discharged as my attorney so I could speak for myself.
I definitely cannot afford the retainer requests of attorneys who are willing to fight the charges the way that needs to be done.

Now, I am considered "pro se".

And I am still being denied a defense.

In December, I submitted my own Motion to Reconsider and was again denied my right to present evidence as to necessity, including a doctor as an expert witness - despite my requests in accordance with the common laws of England, recognized by the Idaho Supreme Court and Idaho State Laws.

Judge Oths says that while I do meet most of the elements of the necessity defense, he just doesn't feel I meet the requirement of an immediate threat of harm. So, he has now, twice, denied me a defense against the 6 marijuana related charges, and 6 years in county jail, I currently face.

Yet, as stated above, the Idaho Supreme Court has already ruled that it is up to the trier of fact - the jury, not the judge - to determine if the elements of the defense are met. And that I have a right to present evidence of the defense to a jury.

Plus, Judge Oths is not a doctor. It is not up to him to determine whether my condition contains an immediate threat of harm without my choice of medicine. My medical choices are between me and my doctors, not the State of Idaho.

The threat of harm is very real in my condition. The physical and emotional pain is very real for millions of Americans, so much that those with my condition are 3-4 times more likely than the general public to choose to take their own life than live with the pain.

Indeed, we've had many in the Interstitial Cystitis community lost by their own hand in recent years. The impact on quality of life is so severe, some would rather choose to commit suicide than live in that kind of agony and misery.

A Harvard study concluded the quality of life of those with Interstitial Cystitis is comparable to those on kidney dialysis and those with chronic cancer pain.

I've had neither, and have no way to compare pain, but as a friend so kindly points out: severe pain and dysfunction is a harm -- that's why people win millions of dollars in settlements for pain and suffering.

But I see what is happening. I can see where, and most likely why, Idahoans who request the necessity defense when charged with Marijuana offenses because of their choice in medicine, are being denied and coerced into plea agreements.

A recent Idaho Supreme Court ruling declared there must be a reasonable view of the evidence to support the theory of Necessity.

This was said in response to a case where a man was traveling through Idaho and brought with him over 3 ounces of Marijuana, and the court ruled that there was not evidence to support the theory because he had alternative choices for pain relief during the 8 hours of travel through Idaho.

But now it's being used against the citizens of Idaho, too.

This is what Judge Oths is using to deny me a defense. (Because apparently to him - 15 years of medical history, numerous written doctor recommendations, and the testimony of a very credible expert witness, are not considered "a reasonable view of the evidence".)

And when the public defenders and inexperienced attorneys are denied the necessity defense for their client, they don't appeal and instead convince them to plea out in order to avoid jail time.

This definitely needs to be challenged. And luckily, I'm in a place to challenge it.

Unfortunately, that means going forward with trial without a defense so that I have a judgement from which I can appeal. So, I will do my best to defend myself, while simultaneously being denied a defense.

After more then 2 years of observing the apparent joke that is our criminal legal system in Idaho, they've finally put the trial date on the calendar - Wednesday, March 7th, 2018. In just a few weeks, I will be denied my Constitutional right to due process, and will not be allowed to present my side of the facts or present my defense to a jury of my peers.

Instead, the Ada County Prosecutors - D. Garrett Swenson and Enrique Gutierrez - will parade dozens of police officers and drug experts into the court room in an attempt to make me look like a criminal and take me away from my children to lock me in cage; where I will suffer unimaginable physical pain when I am not allowed my medicine because of Idaho law.

All over the invocation of my rights to an Ada County Sheriff, .3 grams of marijuana, and my involvement in the civil disobedience protests that followed. 

I could definitely use your support!

Court Support-
If you can make it to my trial, I would appreciate support in the audience.

March 7th, 2018
9am - Judge Michael Oths
Ada County Courthouse
200 West Front St.
Boise, Idaho 83702


Defense Donations -
Appeals are costly, and if I win, I will need to fight the charges all over again, with an expert witness. I am in need of funds to help cover appellate court costs, witness travel costs, and witness fees.

If you can help, I really appreciate it!
PayPal- serrafrank678@gmail.com

Support Reform in Idaho -
Idaho is one of only 3 states in the nation that persecutes its citizens for all forms of Cannabis. There are numerous reform efforts happening in Idaho. We need all the help we can get!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Islands of Prohibition - Marijuana States of Denial


As of the November 2016 election, eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized both medical marijuana and adult recreational marijuana. Another 20 states now have legal medical marijuana programs, which protect citizens whose doctors recommend marijuana as part of medical treatment for debilitating and chronic illnesses. 

Sixteen more have passed legislation that allows for the compassionate use of marijuana-derived CBD oils for children with seizure disorders.

Six states allow industrial hemp and 20 have decriminalized simple marijuana possession. Only two states in the country, West Virginia and Indiana, have strict industrial hemp laws, and just one state, Nebraska, has decriminalization only.

This leaves just three states in the nation without any pro-cannabis law on the books. The harsh marijuana laws of Kansas, South Dakota and Idaho have never been reformed in any way. These states are islands of draconian Prohibition, surrounded by states with at least one reform of their marijuana laws. Citizens of these states have only the possibility of fines and jail time for anything related to cannabis.

Arguments against cannabis reform in these states include: increased access for children, concerns regarding impaired driving, and the fact that marijuana continues to remain a Schedule I substance in the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 

Some Opponents argue that marijuana hasn’t been vigorously researched according to FDA standards. Some even deny the beneficial revenue derived from taxes in states that have legalized marijuana.
Elisha Figueroa, the director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, wrote an article with such a denial. Published as an opinion piece in September 2016 in the Idaho State Journal, she quotes Andrew Freedman, director of the Colorado Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination, and Dave Rodrigues, executive director of the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, to support her argument that revenue and taxes from legalization in Colorado and Washington are “not providing the relief once promised.” Freedman calls legalization for tax revenue a “red herring” and a “myth,” and Rodrigues believes that “many of the reported outcomes show the exact opposite of the goals that sold the initiative to the voters.”  

According to a Tax Foundation Special Report titled “Marijuana Legalization and Taxes: Lessons for Other States from Colorado and Washington” by the independent tax policy research organization, the numbers coming in from Colorado and Washington tell a different story.

In Colorado, voters were promised a $70 million dollar tax revenue from legalization, with $40 million reserved for the public schools and the other $30 million for other needs of the state budget. Voters approved this promise with Amendment 64 in November 2012, and retail marijuana sales began on January 1, 2014. Since then, Colorado marijuana tax revenue had a slow start, but now “greatly exceeds original estimates of $70 million per year.” CNN.com confirms this and points out that in Colorado’s first fiscal year of legalization—with the effective tax rate on marijuana totaling 29%—retail marijuana sales produced $106 million in tax revenue. The collections in 2015 increased to $163 million.

Tax Foundation reports that “marijuana tax revenues were twice those of Colorado alcohol taxes in 2015.” Tax collections are estimated to exceed previous years for 2016, possibly quadruple the revenue of alcohol taxes. Because of concerns that the tax rate was too high and contributed to continued black market sales, Colorado intends to implement a reduction in marijuana taxes for 2017.

Washington retail sales began around the same time as in Colorado, after voters approved Initiative 502 in November 2012 with a promise of “as much as $1.9 billion over five years, 40% going to the state general fund and local budget, and the remaining 60% intended for substance abuse prevention, research, education 
and health care.”

Beginning in July 2015, a neutral 37% excise tax—compared to the 104% effective tax rate on cigarettes and 11% effective tax rate on alcohol—was imposed on marijuana. This came after a brief struggle with separate taxes on processors, retailers and sales. Almost $77 million in marijuana-related taxes was collected from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. Tax Foundation stated in April 2016 that sales averaged over $2 million a day, which would mean excise tax revenue could reach 
$270 million this year.

Even the experiences in Oregon and Alaska, which recently legalized recreational cannabis, are contrary to the Idaho Drug Czar’s article. Oregon collected $3.48 million in taxes on recreational marijuana in the first month of legal sales—three times the official revenue projections. Tax Foundation anticipates “future revenue could reach around $60 million per year.” In a comment for Alaska Dispatch News, Ken Alper, director of the Department of Revenue’s tax division, said “the state’s annual estimate is $12 million,” but noted that in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, tax revenues have “far exceeded forecasts.”

Washington, DC, which has faced legal hurdles regarding the use of funds to enforce legalization of a substance that remains illegal on the federal level, anticipates $20 million a year in tax revenue once red tape is removed.

Other potential contributions to state economies go beyond the taxes imposed on recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana taxes, license fees, business fees, business taxes, non-marijuana products such as pipes and accessories, and non-marijuana (but related) businesses taxes all contribute to the growing economic boost that legal cannabis may provide. New products and new jobs also benefit legal marijuana states.

Taxes and business revenue aren’t the only way to balance a state budget. No longer using taxpayer dollars to arrest, incarcerate and prosecute marijuana consumers will save money and is more logically affordable to the states than continued prohibition.

According to Jon Gettman, PhD, in the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform for DrugScience.org, Idaho spent $28.87 million on marijuana-related expenses, out of a $685 million budget for criminal justice in 2006.

This figure was determined by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)’s formula to generally estimate the criminal justice costs of drug‐related arrests. Dr. Gettman points out that “estimating costs of different types of arrests is a very complicated challenge because of the differences between individual offenses and the investigative and follow‐up work they require,” but goes on to demonstrate that the use of the percentage basis method can provide a general estimate of marijuana-related criminal justice costs.

The ONDCP’s method is to first calculate the percentage of total arrests by the specific type of arrest and then to apply that percentage to total criminal justice system costs. For example, Dr. Gettman estimates that of the “74,520 arrests in Idaho in 2006, there were 3,140 marijuana arrests that year, accounting for 4.21% of all arrests in Idaho for 2006.  Consequently, according to this percentage basis method of estimation, marijuana arrests cost $28.87 million in Idaho for 2006.”

Data from the Idaho State Police’s report on Idaho drug- and alcohol-related arrests and charges for 2006–2013, showed “a sharp increase in the rate of drug charges involving marijuana between 2012 and 2013, moving from 14.5% in 2012 to 43.3% in 2013.”

Idaho legislative reports also show a decrease in state spending on criminal justice costs, and even in total arrest figures. Out of the 62,914 total arrests in Idaho in 2013, 12,236 were for drug offenses and, of those, 5,289 were marijuana-related. This accounts for 8.4% of arrests in Idaho for 2013.

The total criminal justice budget for Idaho in 2013 was smaller than in 2006—with the total number of Idaho arrests being smaller—but the total number of Idaho marijuana-related arrests was larger. Whether this is related to neighboring state (Oregon and Washington) legalization is speculative, but the numbers are clear. Following the same calculation method used by the ONDCP and Dr. Gettman, figures show that of Idaho’s $262.4 million criminal justice budget in 2013, $22.04 million* was spent on marijuana users.

*This figure does not include fiscal statistics relating to child welfare prosecutions or state budget spent on social services, such as foster care costs, parental assessments, chemical dependency services, and other Idaho Department of Health and Welfare expenditures relating to marijuana in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.

An example is the case of Kelsey Osborne, a Gooding, Idaho, mother currently being prosecuted for giving her three-year-old cannabis butter during seizures and hallucinations purportedly caused by withdrawal from the antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

Also of note, Idaho Governor Butch Otter vetoed a CBD affirmative defense bill passed through the Idaho House and Senate in 2015. The proposed law would have provided this mother a defense in court for her action of treating her daughter’s condition with cannabis.

Idaho spends approximately $20–$30 million each year to arrest and prosecute marijuana users. To many, this appears to be a waste of state resources, especially when legalized states predict adding twice that amount to the budget from taxes related to marijuana sales each year.

While numerous states, like Idaho, refuse to stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year on incarcerating non-violent offenders, the race for cannabis freedom has already started for the rest of the country.

States have begun to acknowledge the potential that legalization has for boosting their economy. Many lawmakers actively seek ways to implement the collection of taxes, revenue and numerous benefits of marijuana reform. With California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine now joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, DC, in reform of outdated marijuana laws, the push for legalization is building momentum.

Idaho appears to need a citizens’ effort to reform marijuana laws, because of the attitudes of local politicians and other opponents. Idaho native, Russ Belville, points out in a HighTimes.com article that it’s important to stop waiting for politicians to change marijuana laws. “It’s not a matter of when they are going to change the laws; it’s a matter of when you are going to change the laws,” states Belville.

It’s difficult to imagine the citizens of illegal states willing to be stuck on the wrong side of history or left behind in the proverbial dust of the new “billion dollar” green rush when there is money to be made. 
Despite opposition on the state level, Idaho’s citizens are still trying to change their laws. Idaho currently has a medical marijuana petition being circulated through the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association. With enough signatures, medical marijuana could be on the 2018 ballot.

In the meantime, cannabis entrepreneurs and business investors wait for the untapped markets in states like Idaho to open up through law reform. Many eagerly await the state’s acceptance of the profits and industry that marijuana and hemp have to offer.

Green Majority, a new business venture, hopes to become Idaho’s first medical marijuana dispensary. CEO Koby Conrad is “just waiting for laws to change so that Green Majority can operate legally.”

He hopes to open their doors and start helping Idaho patients as soon as possible. 
In the meantime, Green Majority has pledged that the content of their website and “all efforts will revolve around promoting the legalization of cannabis in Idaho to help to change the current archaic laws.”

Originally published in CannaBiz Journal - 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year - New Citation; Still Fighting Idaho's Marijuana Laws

On January 1st, 2017, Idaho Moms for Marijuana hosted the 2nd annual New Year's Smoke Out Protest on the Idaho Capitol Steps. 

Just as I did last year, I coordinated with the Idaho State Police prior to the event, to ensure communication and civility between our members and law enforcement.

A couple dozen protesters showed up, along with a couple dozen police officers. A few less on both sides than last year, but combined, made up a pretty good sized group. 

I spoke with the assigned Sergeant before everything began. He said that as a long as things went like last year, anyone who participated in the act of civil disobedience would be detained, cited, and then released. He pointed out the troopers that would be giving the citations, and said everything could be done outside this time, instead of going into the capitol building like last year.

This made me happy. It was actually quite an ordeal having to go into the Capitol and down to the basement to receive a citation. My health has consistently deteriorated and my mobility has drastically decreased since last year and I was grateful for the saved energy. 


I was also pleased to hear about the cite & release because I already had things set up with Aladdin Bail Bonds just in case I was actually arrested and taken to jail. Not being arrested meant that I could use that bail money to take care of family and buy more meds for myself instead. So, I told our crowd that it was okay if no one joined me again, and that I would accept the citation alone. 

We did a press conference first, with local media outlets KBOI and KIVI, where several attendees, including Koby Conrad of Green Majority, gave statements to the reporters. 

Koby discussed the Idaho Medical Mariuana Act, and the need for registered voters to seek out the petition to sign, and for as many as possible to circulate a petition to the people they know.
  

I never remember everything that I say during these things. I really hate being in the spotlight, and typically kind of just ramble in front of the camera when it's put in my face. Last year, I tried to write a speech to ensure what needed to be addressed was discussed, but of course couldn't memorize it and reading it just took forever. So this year, I just rambled instead. I'm sure everyone was grateful for the shortened speech, since it was 13 degrees and snowing!

I know I spoke about the need for reform of laws, that officers aren't there to make the laws - only enforce them - and that if we want these laws changed, we need to get our boots on the ground and make it happen. 
The media quoted me as saying: 
Speaking with the KBOI cameraman about my new citation.

"We are completely surrounded by legal marijuana, by C.B.D, and by decriminalization, and Idaho is on the wrong side of history and it's up to us how long we are going to stay there"

"We are challenging Governor Otter and his veto of the CBD bill, we're challenging every citizen of Idaho to stand up and join us and let's actually make this beneficial medicine available to our neighbors."


and "We believe it is our right to choose what goes into our bodies and we should not be criminalized for giving ourselves and our families a better quality of life,"
Then it was almost 4:20pm - time to light the joint. 

Except that the Sergeant had already told me that they cannot let me light it. Last year, when I pulled out the joint, I felt like I was going to be tackled on the capitol steps, so this time, I had told the Sergeant that I would just hand it to them if I could continue the rally before they detained me to give me the citation. He said they had actually spoken about that prior to the rally, and yes, I could continue and hand the joint to the trooper when I was finished.

I remember I joked about changing the name of our event from "New Year's Smoke Out" to "Give Your Weed to the Idaho State Police" which elicited a few giggles from everyone. I know I spoke about the need for clear and defined boundaries for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients as we reform these laws.

I believe I spoke of compassion, and that it isn't a legal matter, a criminal matter, or a political matter. That Idahoans are compassionate people who, I believe, do not want to throw people in jail for using marijuana as medicine to end their suffering.

I spoke about the federal government and the DEA's stance that Marijuana has no medical value and is highly addictive and dangerous, and that these things have been disproven by science and history. 

Then I know I mentioned that there is one thing in which I DO agree with the DEA's position, and that is that "Smoked Mariuana is not modern medicine."

I believe it's definitely not modern medicine. 

Prohibition has delayed the medical evolution of Marijuana.

Instead of sitting in the parking lot at Walgreens, waiting on some dude I really don't know, who could rip me off by selling me non-medical grade crap without any repercussion, I would rather go into the store and get my medicine the way all Idahoans get theirs. 
In a modern form from someone who has been trained to answer my questions about the medicine. 

I pulled out a CannaCap, and said THIS is how I want to take my medicine. 

This is modern medicine. We should all have safe access to our medicine in the form that we prefer. 

Just like at a pharmacy.

The CannaCaps I had in the container are NOT merely CBD oil as KIVI suggested in their article. The caps are marijuana infused coconut oil in capsules. 


CannaCaps are one of the best ways I have ever found to take my medicine.

In reality, the only reason I can't use them daily like I need is because I cannot obtain the right quantity and quality in Idaho for an affordable price. 

If I could have enough of the right Marijuana to make CannaCaps, I would use them every day. If I had CannaCaps every day, I could possibly be capable of leaving my house more frequently, or even have the mobility to work a job of some sort and be a productive member of society like I long to do.

The Caps I had at the Capitol came from a larger stash I was blessed with last month. The only reason I made it through Christmas and all the latest winter storms was because I received them as a gift from a friend. They are difficult to get and it was definitely even more difficult saving them for the rally, and then just handing them over to the police. CannaCaps help me feel so much better than just smoking marijuana. 

I had two CannaCaps on me - a light one and a dark one. They are a lot like Nyquil and Dayquil. One is for night time and one is for during the day, because the effects of each capsule are different based on the strain from which it is made. 


The light capsule (night time) was made with the AC/DC strain, and the dark capsule (day time) was made with Durban Poison. Both strains are very beneficial for my condition because of the levels they contain of numerous Cannabinoids, including THC, THCA, THCV, CBN, CBG and CBD

Durban Poison
Durban Poison is pure Sativa strain, that has an uplifting effect, provides energy and it's mood altering effect aids in depression.

AC/DC
AC/DC is a Sativa dominant hybrid that has a lot of pain relief, with no psychoactive effects, and really helps with sleep.  

Both are anti-inflammatory which really helps with my inflammatory bladder condition.

After the rally was finished, I handed the container to the trooper and he walked with me to his squad car to write me the citation. He was very considerate, and gave me extra time to traverse the snowy capitol steps so I didn't fall on my butt.

As I waited for the officer to write up the citation, I spoke with another trooper about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and their view on ending the violent and deadly War on Drugs

In the end, I received a citation for Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Marijuana joint and two CannaCaps, and Possession of Paraphernalia just for the container. 

Same as last year.

While it's ridiculous that I face up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for each container that I've used in my protests, in addition to up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for merely possessing Marijuana on the Capitol steps, I have to commend the Idaho State Police. 

By not actually arresting me, and only issuing a citation, it shows some of the benefits that could come from decriminalization of Marijuana in Idaho. 

Idaho is already wasting a ton of money prosecuting me for these charges. Funding that could be better used to prosecute real criminals, people who actually harm other people. 

By not arresting me, this year or last, ISP has saved the taxpayers of Idaho quite a bit of money that would have otherwise been spent to transport, book, and house me in the Ada County Jail. 

Decriminalization provides police the ability to do precisely what ISP used their discretion to do. The same that Payette County Sheriff Chad Huff has previously suggested - issue a citation and let the courts deal with it instead of arresting people for Marijuana.

The only difference between what ISP did, what Sheriff Huff suggests, and decriminalization, is that with decrim, we could officially remove the criminal element (the misdemeanor) from the charge. That way, when the courts deal with it, it isn't a bunch of money spent on prosecuting and jailing nonviolent people for merely possessing marijuana. It's an infraction instead, that poses a fine on the offender instead of prosecution and jail time. 

While this isn't the best Idaho could do for it's citizens, it would definitely be a good start.

In the mean time, I will keep fighting against Idaho's illogical War on Marijuana. We've got a petition for which to collect signatures, Kelsey Osborne's fight against CPSBoise Hempfest coming up in April, Global Marijuana March in May, and more in the works. Maybe we'll even do a 3rd New Year's Smoke Out for 2018.

I have to enter a plea on my new charges next week, and I have court for my other charges, so I will be going in on January 10th, 2017 to do both.  


I welcome anyone who supports changing Idaho's marijuana laws to attend!

Court begins at 9:30am at the Ada County Court House.
Learn more at the facebook event for Court Support


More to come! Check back soon for updates.


Happy New Year!