Nearly all the protests I've attended have been events to be covered, rather than participated in. One exception was a rally for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws on the Capitol steps in Boise. It must have been 2000 or 2001, because I remember being really into Rage Against the Machine—I even wore a Che Guevara T-shirt (so humiliating). A few College of Idaho classmates and I piled into somebody's crappy car and made the trip from Caldwell, which I recall was way too early in the morning. Like, 9 a.m. on a Saturday.
When we arrived at the Statehouse, the hour had clearly limited attendance. "Who the hell schedules a weed rally for 9 a.m. on a Saturday?" I remember saying. There were about 20 people milling around and we were immediately embarrassed to be among them. More NORML supporters eventually showed up. There was some chanting and a guy dressed up like a giant bong.
Things went on like that until a security guard told organizers their time was up and unplugged the PA system. There was a moment of anger in the crowd at the unceremonious end of our rally, but we all seemed to shrug our shoulders and wander off.
I don't smoke weed. However, pretty much everyone I've ever known has at least occasionally done so. They are not bad people and I've never seen why it should be a jailable offense.
Thankfully, I'm far from alone in that thinking, as the so-called "debate" over legal weed has matured beyond anything we could have expected back in the early '00s. More than half the country has legalized marijuana in some form and for a variety of uses. Looking at a map of the Western United States, Idaho is surrounded by a sea of green: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have all lifted bans on marijuana for medicinal use. Yes, Montana.
Then there's Idaho, dangling out there with Utah and Wyoming like an appendage of the Bible Belt. Meanwhile, there are families like those profiled in our feature story on Page 11 who are being displaced from their homes so their children can receive medical treatments that would mean jail time in the Gem State.
Whatever our lawmakers are smoking should be illegal.