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Politics & Government

Anti-Pot Legalization Speakers Back Out Of Forum On Idaho Drug Policy

Adam Cotterell
Boise State Public Radio

A marijuana policy forum Tuesday night that was billed as a balanced discussion between some of Idaho’s top supporters and opponents of pot legalization turned out not to be all it was advertised.

First, a former Idaho lawmaker who is a pro-pot Republican bowed out, organizers say for health reasons. To replace him, a marijuana advocate with a national following was added to the program. Then Tuesday a speaker from the Idaho State Police canceled. Finally Elisha Figueroa, chief drug policy advisor to Idaho’s governor, backed out.

Despite being head of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, Figueroa is sometimes reluctant to engage the public on marijuana issues, though she disputes that assertion. Having her and the state police on the program lent the event legitimacy.

Figueroa, who is sometimes referred to as the state’s Drug Tsar, said in an email the program shifts changed the nature of the event.

“…there was a last minute addition of another radical speaker from outside of Idaho. As a result, it has become clear that what was billed as a college forum for meaningful discussion has turned into a choreographed pro-marijuana rally. I had agreed to participate because of the stated goal of a balanced discussion on the issue of marijuana legalization with a speaker list made up of Idaho citizens and Idaho government officials. However, because that is no longer the case and the intent of the forum has significantly shifted, I will not be participating. I regret the loss of what might have been a valuable opportunity for education and dialogue.” – Elisha Figueroa

Organizer Tate Fegley a Boise State University criminal justice grad student and president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy says when the state police and Figueroa canceled, it did become a one-sided event.

“It was pretty unexpected that she would cancel at the last minute,” Fegley says. “It’s definitely a disappointment because we promoted this as a conversation from diverse viewpoints about marijuana policy in Idaho.”

Instead the 100 or so people who gathered in a Boise State University public meeting space Tuesday night heard two Oregon-based marijuana advocates and the head of the organization trying to get medical pot legalization on Idaho’s November ballot.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio

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