Quiet, north-end streets, shadowed by a still calm after late-night July thunderstorms. I Just had one of the those old-school diner style breakfasts accented with a cup of black coffee. I was accompanied by an old friend of mine, Paul Dilliard. It’s been a while since i have been to Boise, Idaho. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Paul Dilliard.
On the way over, speeding on west to east highways and sometimes boring desert roads, I was trying to find a question to ask my friend. You see, he has been working the ranks of the prison system, doing just fine, and teaching at the police academy. Not surprised that’s the route he took. After all, half of his uncles seemed to be doing the same, or in the special forces. Or maybe, it was the Green Berets.
After tumbleweed and sagebrush, and a few sips of one of the few drugs that you are allowed to use while driving (caffeine), I finally found the question I wanted to ask:
“You work with the Police Department and prison system in Idaho…now that Oregon and Washington have legalized marijuana, has their stance or position relaxed a bit, or has it changed?”
Paul Dilliard shook his head side to side without even a hint of hesitation.
“No way, not at all. They think those states are stupid. They are really conservative here. Idaho will be the last state to legalize.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised at Paul’s answer, but I have to admit, I was. I thought for sure he was going to tell me: ‘yeah, the police department has relaxed their stance a bit. They are going to focus on more important things.’ But no. The answer was clinging onto ‘Reefer Madness’ like super-glue.
I have spent some time in the past, when I was younger, in the beautiful outdoorsy state of Idaho. I knew it was conservative, but most of my time was spent getting kicks in non-conservative circles. Conservative Idaho was always in my face, but I was always looking away.
Still, it’s just hard to imagine how a state, bordering two states that have just legalized marijuana, may possibly be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Could it really be that far removed from other states in the same region? Especially, a state that resides in the former wild wild west?
I wasn’t done. I wanted some more insight to the perception that Idaho has about marijuana. Even if it was just a little more. I paid a visit to a long-time local smoke shop in the confines of the downtown.
After a brief introduction, in which the man behind the counter made it very clear that he fully supports marijuana and ‘what we are doing over there,’ he summed up his perception.
“There is a divide. There are those who love the idea of legalized marijuana, and there are those who are completely against it. It’s not one way or another, just a mix. However, the overall perception of marijuana seems to have relaxed a bit.”
Expected. Of course the guy who works at the smoke shop, who sees people entering the smoke shop every single day, is going to have a more favorable view. But still, it’s interesting that he said: ‘there is a divide.
I had one last friend to meet up with. Sultan James. One friend I have spent more time with that any other one. So I know him well. So well, I didn’t need to ask him what he thought about states that are legalizing marijuana, or the current status quo in Idaho. Still, he’s not shy bringing the subject on his own.
“I can pay a visit to any craft brewery in Boise and down three 7% IPA’s and it is perfectly ‘okay’ to do, but I’m not allowed to freely take a simple cannabis-infused lozenge – something so harmless – and suck on it like it’s a piece of candy. It’s fucking ridiculous.”
Again, I wasn’t surprised by his thoughts. Like I said, I knew his views.
Sultan James has had it rough with cannabis and prohibition. About a year before we met, he had been driving with a friend in Nevada. At the time, Nevada had some of the most strict anti-cannabis laws in the country. It just so happen, they were also driving through one of the strictest counties in the state. Upon being pulled over, the cop was suspicious enough to search the vehicle and found a small amount of cannabis and mushrooms.
Because of this, he spent 3 days in the country jail, inherited a fine in the thousands of dollars, and was issued over a hundred hours of community service and AA classes. Upon violating his probation by staying out too late one night, receiving an ankle bracelet which kept him indoors except for work, and violating his probation once gain after he smoked some cannabis, he spent another six months in jail, followed by almost two years in a maximum security prison.
Sultan James is just one example of how marijuana prohibition has failed. He is a great individual with a big heart. He is not a problem to society. He is harmless. But, because of a small amount of natural ‘drugs,’ and a couple of unfortunate choices, he was treated like he was a big problem and a threat to other citizens.
I wrapped up my visit in Boise. A place that remains familiar in some ways, because of long ago memories, but so different and far removed from my home in Seattle. A ten hour drive, an hour by plane, but a world’s apart.
While neighbors: Washington and Oregon are visiting the future, Idaho remains in ‘law law’ land.
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