Boise & Garden City

Marijuana protest at Capitol in Boise ends peacefully

Marijuana supporter Serra Frank, director of the Mom Squad at Moms for Marijuana International, is approached on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol on Jan. 1 after letting police officers know she was in possession of marijuana. Frank had just spoken to a small group of people interested in changing Idaho’s marijuana laws.
Marijuana supporter Serra Frank, director of the Mom Squad at Moms for Marijuana International, is approached on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol on Jan. 1 after letting police officers know she was in possession of marijuana. Frank had just spoken to a small group of people interested in changing Idaho’s marijuana laws. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Serra Frank cried on the steps of the Capitol building in Downtown Boise Friday as she explained her reasons for supporting the legalization of marijuana. But she didn’t go to jail.

“Marijuana gave my children their mom back,” she said. “I used to be in bed all the time. I was 100 pounds heavier, I couldn’t move.”

Frank has interstitial cystitis, a painful bladder condition. She said she’s been prescribed a laundry list of opioids to deal with the pain but prefers marijuana. Treatments for the underlying condition include a number of medications and therapies.

Frank chose to stay in Idaho and fight for legalization of medical marijuana. She said her stepdaughter and the girl’s father moved to California, where medical marijuana is legal, because the family wanted to try cannabis-based treatments for MRSA — antibiotic-resistant staph infection — which the girl had developed.

Frank, who founded Moms for Marijuana International, planned to smoke a joint at the Capitol at 4:20 p.m. on New Year’s Day as an act of civil disobedience. She had been arrested earlier in the week for marijuana possession, possession of paraphernalia and resisting/obstructing officers. She is scheduled to appear in court on those misdemeanor charges on Jan. 19, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

Despite already facing charges, she told supporters and the media in front of the Statehouse Friday that she wanted to go through with publicly breaking what she believes are unjust laws.

“This isn’t just about a drug. This isn’t just about getting high. This is about liberty, this is about freedom, this about — medicine, yes — but it’s about more than that, even,” she said. “It’s about an 80-year long prohibition that has been a toxic mess against our society.”

Frank corresponded with an Idaho State Police officer before the protest, in hopes of keeping the event peaceful, she told the Statesman. She again talked with police before making a speech in which she laid out pro-legalization arguments.

“We are not here to cause problems with the police,” she said. “Their job is to enforce the laws. If we don’t want them to enforce those laws, then we need to change those laws.”

She then pulled out a bag that contained marijuana, but police stopped her before she lit up. An officer asked Frank to give him the bag, and Frank complied while saying she was disappointed that she could not finish the protest by smoking.

Officers then escorted her into the Capitol building to issue a citation. Frank was cited with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia, then released.

“We were just there to ensure that the laws are enforced as they’re written,” said Idaho State Police spokeswoman Teresa Baker.

Frank “was cooperative, and that was the only person who was cited,” Baker said.

The crowd of at least 20 people slowly dispersed as some protesters shouted opposition to laws against marijuana and questioned why about a dozen police officers were at the event. No one at the event appeared to openly use marijuana.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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