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Eye On Boise

Mon., April 4, 2011, 1:26 p.m.

Wrenching testimony from patients at medical marijuana hearing; no action planned on bill

The House Health & Welfare Committee is hearing wrenching testimony today from patients about their health conditions as part of its continued informational hearing on Rep. Tom Trail's medical marijuana bill, HB 19. Many have said medical marijuana would alleviate their suffering and remove the need to take other, stronger medications that cause them serious side effects. Also, Debbie Field, director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, spoke against the bill, saying a state criminal justice commission has voted to oppose it. "It is fueling all kinds of fires out there on a movement through an initiative process," Field told the committee, and she said Montana is looking to repeal its medical marijuana law due to concerns.

Trail, R-Moscow, responded, "Debbie made an excellent point, and that is the fact that states that have gone through the initiative process did not go through the rigorous hearing" that legislation requires. Though the committee is holding an informational hearing, it doesn't plan to take any action on the bill this year.

Neighboring Washington, Montana, Oregon and Nevada all have legalized medical marijuana, but the substance is fully criminalized in Idaho, with possession of even traces classified as a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Anyone younger than 18 caught with any amount of marijuana also will lose their driver’s license for a year, and possession of 3 ounces or more is a felony, carrying up to a five-year prison sentence and fines of up to $10,000.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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