Idaho has some great scenery and some great skiing, it has the Snake River Canyon, and it has a huge knot of mountains in the middle of the state that are very appealing to those who like rugged, isolated beauty. I had intended to explore them this summer, but I've changed my mind. And this story is the reason why:
Medical Marijuana Defense Falls Flat
REXBURG — The Fremont County prosecutor says a drug bust in Island Park illustrates that claiming a medical use of marijuana with a certificate from another state won't help you in Idaho.
Aurora M. Hathor-Rainmenti, 35 , of Garberville, Calif., was arrested Friday after she was stopped for speeding near Mack's Inn. Fremont County deputies found a baggy containing marijuana in her car with the help of a drug dog.
Hathor-Rainmenti was charged with one count of possession of marijuana and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, all misdemeanors.
Fremont County Prosecutor Joette Lookabaugh said Hathor-Rainmenti said she had a certificate from the state of California allowing for medical use of marijuana.
"We want the public to know that medical marijuana certificates, even if they're from surrounding states, are not honored in Idaho," Lookabaugh said.
Okay, I understand this. Idaho is under no obligation to honor a medical marijuana card from a different state. Medical marijuana users be forewarned: If you're headed for benighted redneck country, don't expect your card to protect you.
There is, however, no suggestion that Hathor-Rainmenti is anything other than a legitimate medical marijuana patient. Still, the local prosecutor takes the opportunity to pile on the charges: Not only does she get a pot possession charge, she also gets two paraphernalia charges (did she have two rolling papers, or what?). Absolutely typical, of course, and absolutely disgusting. Just another way for prosecutors to stack the deck. And not limited to Idaho.
Similarly, a judge in Idaho, if he had an ounce of compassion in his body, could take her medical marijuana patient status into account during sentencing. There is no sign he did that:
On Monday Hathor-Rainmenti pleaded guilty to the possession charge and one of the possession of paraphernalia charges. The other paraphernalia charge was dropped.
She was sentenced to five days in jail, with 115 days at the discretion of the court along with an $800 fine.
Nice. Throwing a patient in jail for a victimless crime—and rip her off for $800. Remember, she was not charged with drugged driving—and you better believe she would have been had there been the least suggestion she was impaired. Okay, the sentence was ugly and reprehensible, but still nothing unusual in the fascistoid heartland. But here's the kicker; here's what's got me thinking boycott:
In addition, there is a civil forfeiture under way on the borrowed car Hathor-Rainmenti was driving, as well as on the $514 in cash that was confiscated during the arrest.
Say what?!?! Asset forfeiture laws are supposed to be directed at people getting rich from selling drugs. They're problematic enough in that regard, since they create an incentive for cops to trawl for cash, distorting law enforcement priorities in the constant search for the next big score—with the loot typically used to pay for more cops and more drug dogs to find more cash to seize to pay for more cops and more drug dogs and…In short, they are little more than a form of institutionalized, legalized corruption.
But Hathor-Rainmenti only had a bag of weed. She was not charged with drug distribution. And the state of Idaho is going to steal her car and every penny she had on her? This is nothing but robbery under color of law. This is the criminal justice system as organized thuggery. The thieving state of Idaho can go to hell.
I am sick to death of this sort of crap. It happens all the time, and not just in Idaho. But we have to start somewhere, and that's why I'm suggesting that perhaps a boycott is in order. Idaho is a relatively small state in terms of population, and it is highly dependent on tourism. In other words, it's vulnerable.
I am aware that boycotts are a blunt instrument that may not directly harm the people they are aimed at—the cops who make the busts, the prosecutors who try to hammer good people down, the judges who routinely impose such obscene sentences, the politicians who write the laws. But if the ski resorts in Sun Valley or the river guides and hotel owners along the Snake River Valley start seeing cancellations, perhaps they will be motivated to start putting some money into campaigns to end this evil.
To be honest, I'm getting frustrated with playing games with state legislatures and I'm thinking it's time for some creative direct actions. We can spend years at the statehouse only to win a piddling decriminalization bill. Whoopee! Now you can only steal my stash and a few hundred of my hard-earned dollars instead of stealing my stash and my money and giving me a criminal record and some jail time. That is progress of a sort, but not nearly enough. Ditto with medical marijuana. Why is it that it seems like every new medical marijuana law is more restrictive than the last? Pretty soon we're going to end up with a medical marijuana law somewhere where you have to be dead already to qualify.
So…what about an organized boycott of Idaho, for starters? Would medical marijuana defense groups like Americans for Safe Access get on board with that? Why or why not? What about NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project? Or the Drug Policy Alliance? Just the announcement of a boycott ought to start a real ruckus among the good burghers of Boise.
There are 20 million or so pot smokers in the US, and they have friends and families. We are talking about tens of millions of people who could potentially participate. It could even have a real economic impact, and if that's what it takes to beat some sense into these yahoos, so be it. Individuals could do their part by writing letters to the state and local chambers of commerce, to the state tourism bureau, and to state newspapers explaining why they are going elsewhere this year. Reservations could be made and then canceled. Let 'em feel the pain.
As I've said, I'm getting really tired of progress by the millimeter. I'm open to some creative tactics. A directed boycott is one of them.
Here's another one: The drug defense bar grows rich defending pot people. How about after charging us $5,000 to show up in court and cop a guilty plea and $15,000 to pursue an appeal on constitutional grounds a few hundred times, you give back to the community you grow rich off of? How about a group of you picking a particular egregious locality and pro bono defending every drug case like you meant it? I mean filing motions, going to trial, no plea bargains, demanding jury trials, the works. You could probably freeze the system in a few weeks. Yeah, I know there are issues, but we could work them out.
Sure, things like boycotts and forcing the criminal justice system are messy and difficult. But in the meantime, the wheels of injustice keep grinding away, chewing up our people in the process. Anybody got any better ideas?
Do we begin with boycotting Idaho? Count me in.