June 7, 2009 – “I have provided you with information, facts and statistical evidence that all point towards the legalization of marijuana,” Ian Barry wrote in his essay. “But the truth is it doesn’t matter what I say until you, the people, stand up and besiege the government to re-address the litigation of marijuana.”
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TACOMA, Wash. — Ian Barry says he wasn’t trying to be a martyr when he lit a marijuana joint last week at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, nor was he trying to pull a stunt.

Simply put, the 17-year-old junior wanted to drive home the message of his persuasive essay: Marijuana doesn’t deserve its negative stigma and should be legalized.

On Friday, Barry told The News Tribune that he knew what the consequences would be for his bold tactics, but he was willing to accept them.

After his speech Tuesday, he was arrested and sent to Remann Hall juvenile detention center in Tacoma. He was expelled from school. (Read the essay here at the site of television station KIRO.)

He says he fully accepts his punishment. He faces misdemeanor charges of unlawful drug possession after police found the container that he carried the joint in and that contained marijuana residue. He also understands this will go on his record.

“I see myself as someone who holds himself to a high moral value,” Barry said.

The stunt, in which he smoked, then ate the joint, was celebrated among some of the teen’s peers but was frowned on to say the least by law enforcement officers and district administrators.

“We believe in freedom of speech and encourage it, but illegal activities are absolutely not going to be tolerated in our district,” school Superintendent Terry Bouck said.

Barry will meet with Peninsula administrators to determine whether he should be allowed to finish classes. He said the joint was key to making his point and starting a dialogue on the leglization of marijuana.

“As Sir Isaac Newton said, ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,’ ” Barry said. “I don’t think there would have been another way I could have gotten this reaction.”

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