Activist declares "No longer drug criminal"

posted Sep 3, 2010, 5:16 AM by Ron Boozell   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 8:21 AM by Ron Boozell ]

HA HA ...they called it a pot leaf.

A mature marijuana flower displayed for council and guests, and readers.

Ron Boozell shows off his pot leaf at Wednesday's City Council meeting.

City Council

A lesson in legalized marijuana

Man brings marijuana leaf into City Hall to demonstrate Measure 91

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Jul 17, 2015 at 12:01AM / Updated Jul 17, 2015 at 05:54AM

After he held up a large marijuana leaf at a Bend City Council meeting Wednesday night and passed the plant along to the elected officials sitting behind the dais, Ron Boozell learned something.

Boozell, a community activist and recent council candidate known as Rondo, was there to offer public testimony about how his lifestyle would no longer be considered a crime in Oregon after Measure 91 legalized recreational marijuana. Without waiting for a response, Boozell asked Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, who was seated at the back of council chambers, whether he was doing anything wrong, flashing a double thumbs-up in the official’s direction.

“Not to shock anybody, and I don’t know if this will be the first time this plant has been in this room, but I’d like to present this,” Boozell said, passing off the foot-tall leaf as a number of councilors laughed. “God it smells good.”

But according to section 56 of the voluminous Measure 91 — “Homegrown marijuana in public view (is) prohibited” — Boozell, 54, was doing something wrong, though his actions also illustrate public confusion about what exactly is legal.

After Boozell’s testimony, Porter, who was able to reference the pertinent statute language from memory, called in an officer to issue Boozell a citation that may cost him up to $650.

The police, however, were a bit confused, too. Boozell said the officer wasn’t sure what section of the law to specify on the citation slip, eventually deciding on section 54, which pertains to the use, not display, of the plant.

Porter said Thursday the section number will be easy to amend, but commented the confusion shows “how we’re all struggling to understand a law put out at the last minute that’s both extremely complicated and in-depth.”

On this issue, Boozell and Porter somewhat agree.

“The law is not clear” Boozell wrote in an email Thursday. “I care not. I am not a drug criminal. I protest any law, clear or vague, that seeks to punish my ability to speak freely. Marijuana is food and medicine for me, and has been a regular part of my diet for three decades. I consumed it when it required me to do so under great risk of incarceration and many forms of punishment including fines and confiscation (of) personal property. I will continue to use it, regardless of the law, or the citation.”

There was confusion behind the dais, too, as members of the City Council said it wasn’t even clear to them whether a law was being broken.

“I’m glad the chief was here, as I didn’t really have any idea if it was illegal or not,” Mayor Jim Clinton said after the meeting. “It’s a little sad, because he was exercising his free speech, but the law is the law, I suppose.”

Councilor Nathan Boddie, who also wasn’t sure about the law, wondered whether Boozell could have gained permission to display the leaf before coming to the meeting, referencing how police departments routinely display drugs they have seized.

“Let’s not get distracted by the fun of the juice,” Boddie said, using a slang term. “There’s hard work to do with making sense of this issue. Rondo isn’t subtle, but his intent clearly wasn’t to distribute or anything like that.”

After the meeting ended past midnight, Porter said his department always considers “the totality of the circumstances” when reacting to a situation, adding that a citation was appropriate in this case.

“It was a public meeting in a public building,” Porter said. “People have a responsibility to know the law and should really do their research.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,