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House State Affairs opens hearing on anti-marijuana resolution

“Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States,” Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, told the House State Affairs Committee this morning, pitching his SCR 112, a Senate-passed resolution declaring that it’s the position of the Idaho Legislature that the state should never legalize marijuana for any use. “I think what this resolution is trying to do is just to make a statement that Idaho recognizes the problems that marijuana is creating in other states,” Winder said. “This is just a statement, it doesn’t change the law. … It’s just a statement on behalf of the Legislature of Idaho.”

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said he’d like to propose an amendment to add, “Except when prescribed by physicians specializing in cancer treatment for the treatment of patients with terminal cancer.” He asked, “Would that be something that would be acceptable to the sponsor?” Winder responded, “Under our joint rules, we’re not allowed to amend resolutions.” He said, “That’s something you could propose I think in the form of legislation, if you chose to.”

There are lots of people wanting to testify on both sides of the measure. Lindsey Rinehart of Compassionate Idaho was first up to speak; she said her group last week launched a medical marijuana initiative in Idaho. “What we are trying to do is legalize marijuana for seriously ill and terminally ill patients," she said. "We need safe access for patients to obtain their cannabis legally, without becoming part of a black market society.” Rinehart, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said, “It is appalling for people to tell me to leave the state I love to go get the medical care that I need.”

Elisha Figueroa, administrator of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, told the committee, “It has no medical use and is addictive.” She said, “Marijuana use has also been directly linked to mental illness.”

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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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