READER'S VIEW: MARIJUANA
Joseph is dead. Boniface is a beggar. They started taking marijuana in 1974 as freshmen in high school. They were not only my classmates, but blood and humanitarian relatives. We shared food, shared clothes, worked together and slept on the same makeshift bed.
We traveled the same path until marijuana led to the wasted lives of my best friends. It is heartbreaking for me to watch state after state succumbing to those who want permission to use marijuana for whatever purpose.
I commend Idaho legislators for taking a firm stand against legalizing marijuana. It is ironic that there are people who think increased use of marijuana would not lead to abuse of other drugs when numerous studies have shown it to be the case.
Uncle Joseph, my age mate, was the last born of my grandfather's children. Tall and a fast runner, he was a great boy to listen to as he entertained and educated others with uncommon wisdom. A day after I learned he had been initiated to manhood, I walked three miles, one way, to be initiated, too.
Boniface was an orphan, five years older than I. I met him at lunchtime on the day a teacher with permission from my father forced me to repeat sixth grade in 1972. Our lives would be inextricable forever. I took him to my parents, who fed, clothed and paid for his high school education.
The chapter of my life with those two boys is rarely, if at all, featured in my writing or speeches. Undeniable feelings of hopelessness and guilt still overcome me. I wonder what more I might have done to save my uncle and adopted brother from destroying their lives and in the process wrecking the lives and families of those who loved them.
The three of us were in seventh grade in 1973. They were admitted to separate high schools that were started by Catholic missionaries. I had three Cs - not good for a public high school with better education opportunities.
I don't know when they started taking marijuana. I learned they were in my sophomore year when my uncle started skipping school, sleeping too much and behaving strangely. When school closed, I noticed the same behavior with Boniface. Their grades and desire to have me in their company declined.
Joseph's marijuana use increased after his father died in 1976. A year later, drugs controlled his life. He skipped some final high school exams and started undressing in public. He became homeless, with nothing to show for his promising academic and physical abilities.
Boniface's downfall was more gradual, but not better. He was recruited by the Kenya army and sent to Britain for training as a captain after graduating from high school. By the time he returned to Kenya, he was different. He got into fights and started talking back to my father - unheard of in my father's home. He married a prostitute with whom he changed our home - they fought with fists and chairs.
I was present in 1982 when that boy dishonored, in the presence of elders, the man who had fed, clothed and educated him - and I can say treated and favored him more than I because of his academic abilities. His soft voice endeared him to my family until marijuana pulled him away.
His wife and several children died young. He became a beggar. Marijuana is a proven destroyer of lives, families and communities.