Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Adventures in Weed Court, Pt. 2

And 9 months later, my adventures in Idaho's Weed Court finally continued...

And then was continued again. 

Last week, I appeared in court for a hearing regarding two of my cases. Four of the charges are marijuana related, two of which stem from my act of civil disobedience on the Capitol Steps last New Year's Day. The hearing was to argue a motion submitted by the Ada County Public Defender's Office on my behalf that requested jury instruction on the Necessity Defense.

The motion had been submitted by my latest public defender in the cases, a woman I have never met. The attorney assigned to my case was suddenly switched in October, claiming change in hierarchy of the office. I was already having difficulty communicating with the public defender's office regarding another civil rights related case that had been juggled through 5 different attorneys in only 3 months. So, when they switched the public defender in my Marijuana cases, I finally gave up on any kind of adequate defense from the Ada County Public Defender's office and decided I really need a paid attorney, or to just do it myself instead. 

Luckily, I know a constitutional rights attorney, R. Thomas Curl of Mountain Valley Law, who has been helping my friend, Kelsey Osborne fight Child Protective Services and an Injury to Child charge over Marijuana. So I fired the public defender's office and figured out how to retain Tom Curl as counsel. 

Tom submitted a substitution of counsel the day I retained him in November, and immediately requested discovery from the State. The prosecution delayed in providing the discovery until just days before the scheduled hearing, several weeks after the request was submitted. So, we decided to go to the hearing and have my attorney request a continuance on the motion in order for him to have adequate time to prepare for the hearing. 

The weekend before the hearing, Tom sent me a new plea offer from the prosecution. It was essentially exactly the same as before - plead guilty to 2 of 5 charges, receive approximately 90 days jail time w/ all but 3 days suspended, with work release/SILD options; fines with more than half suspended; 2 years unsupervised probation. The only difference was there wasn't an offer of community service, and they wanted more money in fines. 

It's quite a good offer, just like before, if you are someone who is wanting to get through the system as quickly as possible. Someone who doesn't want to go to court, or go in front of a judge and jury, or isn't willing to go to jail. But the same issues still apply as the last offer. 

Mainly - what is the point of standing up against injustice if I just bend my morals and beliefs for the easy way out once faced with the exact laws I'm fighting. 

Marijuana prohibition is based on lies. Laws based on lies are bad laws. States that prosecute bad laws need to be held accountable. Bad laws are unjust laws and willfully and civilly violating unjust laws to raise awareness of the need for change has proven through the generations to be an effective and significant method of pushing for justice and change in the law.

And Marijuana laws in Idaho really need to change.

Not just for me,and my family, but for every Idahoan who is suffering and civilly disobeying unjust laws every day just to have a better quality of life. Especially when that life is in grasp if merely allowed safe access to this very beneficial medicine. The easy way out is not worth the change that could come from Idahoans refusing to criminalize their neighbors just for choosing a better quality of life over a bad law. 

So I said no to the plea agreement and went to court on December 19th.

When Idaho Fourth Judicial District Judge Michael Oths began the hearing, my attorney requested the continuance to have enough time to prepare our expert witness and be ready to argue the motion. 

The prosecution objected, mainly because they already had their witness in the court room ready to testify against the request for the Necessity Defense - the arresting officer, Trooper Brandalyn Crapo, from the New Year's Day protest. She had brought with her the thick envelope of cannabis educational information I had provided to Lt. Doty of the Idaho State Police at the protest, admitting before the hearing that she hadn't read any of it and didn't know what was in it.

Idaho State Trooper, Brandalyn Crapo, arresting me on the Idaho Capitol Steps - January 1st, 2016

Judge Oths questioned the relevance that testimony from a police officer would have in regards to a medical necessity and the prosecution argued that my act of civil disobedience was during a protest rally, that there had been a rally in 2011, and that Idaho Moms for Marijuana has a rally planned again for January 1st, 2017. The prosecution suggested that because my act of civil disobedience was done in public, in protest of Idaho's marijuana laws, that it wasn't a medical necessity for me to possess the marijuana at the event. He even mentioned that if it was for medical use, that could have been done at my home and one case was done in public on the steps of the State Capitol. Judge Oths asked if the event was one where other people may have also attempted to disobey the law in political protest, and the prosecution confirmed that it was.

The prosecution also suggested that there wasn't actually a "medical necessity defense" in Idaho. Judge Oths agreed, but informed the prosecution that he had already researched several cases of common law of necessity used as defense in Idaho Marijuana cases, where the necessity was for medical use. One such case included a trafficking case, and it had been applied in that case.

Judge Oths granted our continuance, and set another pretrial date for January 10th 2017 to determine what direction the cases will be going.

In the mean time, I will be attending Idaho Moms for Marijuana's 2nd annual New Years Smoke Out/Protest. We will gather with signs again on the Capitol Steps this Sunday (New Year's Day - 1/11/17), and share stories about the need for reform in Idaho, including Kelsey Osborne's current case against CPS and Twin Falls County. We will protest specifically against Governor Butch Otter's veto of the 2015 CBD bill and Elisha Figuroa's involvement and obstinate refusal to acknowledge medical science. 

We will also have Idaho Medical Marijuana Association's new medical marijuana petition for registered voters to sign and I'll be participating in an act of civil disobedience, even if I am standing alone again. 

Friends and family have asked me why I would do it a second time, even with charges still pending. Won't it hurt my case? My answer - because, to me, legalizing a better quality of life for myself, my loved ones, and my neighbors is that important.

It's important we keep talking about this.
Idaho drug warriors refuse to have the conversation, so we must keep pushing the discussion.

And I will push for Cannabis awareness, education and discussion in Idaho as long as I call it my home. Even if that home is behind bars, in the county bed and breakfast, and being hosted by Idaho's finest law enforcement at the cost of the tax payers.

If that's what my neighbors truly want... to criminalize me for helping my family.

But I already know it isn't what they want.

I know my fellow Idahoans. I know my neighbors.
They are kind, compassionate people.

I know Idaho wants medical marijuana.
And it's only a matter of time before we get it.

To me, this is just one of the steps along the way.

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