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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: medical marijuana

Lawmakers wary of marijuana-derived treatment for seriously ill child

The parents of a terribly ill 9-year-old Idaho girl worked with state lawmakers from both parties this past session, Boise State Public Radio’s Adam Cotterell reports, to get an exception to Idaho’s strict anti-marijuana laws for a treatment that could help reduce the child’s frequent, lengthy seizures – but, while lacking in the ingredients that cause users to become high, is extracted from the marijuana plant. However, Cotterell reports, though lawmakers initially kept telling the Idaho couple there was a chance, no legislation was drafted or introduced.

Senate Health & Welfare Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, told Cotterell, “This would not be an easy sell, I don’t think, in Idaho, given the nature of our conservative Legislature.” Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, however, said the issue is separate from medical marijuana, and he’s confident lawmakers can address it next year. “If we can find a way that doesn’t legalize marijuana but helps these kids, I believe Idahoans and Idaho legislators are compassionate and will want to work on this,” he said. Utah already has passed an exception for the specific treatment oil to help patients with the rare condition. Idaho lawmakers last year passed a resolution opposing any future legalization of marijuana in the state for any purpose; it passed the Senate 29-5 and the House 63-7. You can see and hear Cotterell’s full story here.

Initiatives on medical marijuana, minimum wage fall far short of mark, won’t be on ballot

Yesterday was the deadline to turn in signatures to qualify initiatives for the November ballot, and Boise State Public Radio reports that neither measure that was being circulated made the mark, or even came close. The backers of the initiative to legalize medical marijuana turned in only 559 signatures after a year of trying, BSPR reports, while those pushing for an increased minimum wage in Idaho had 8,301 qualified signatures at the deadline. Each needed 53,751 to qualify for the November ballot; you can read BSPR’s full report here.

Idaho medical marijuana activists’ children removed from home, placed in foster care

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three medical marijuana advocates from southwest Idaho say their children were placed into state foster care after law enforcement searched their home and found marijuana. KTVB-TV reports ( ) when Lindsey and Josh Rinehart came home from a trip last week, their babysitter was home but their two sons were gone. The Rineharts and Sarah Caldwell — who also had two sons placed into foster care — are members of Compassionate Idaho, a group focused on legalizing marijuana for medical uses. No charges have been filed, but authorities say all three are being investigated for drug trafficking and possession. Lindsey Rinehart denied the claims, adding said she has multiple sclerosis and uses cannabis to treat her illness. But she says she intends to quit in hopes of getting her sons back.

The Idaho Statesman has a full report today; you can read it here. In it, reporter Sven Berg reports that the Boise Police said officers removed Rinehart’s 5- and 10-year-old sons from her custody because they considered them to be in danger. “It's a decision that's not made lightly. It's not made very often,” Boise Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said. “But it is the detectives' call.” The police said officers went to Rinehart's home after an 11-year-old at a local school reported being sick; the child had eaten marijuana, reportedly from Rinehart's home. Police said the baby sitter allowed the officers to enter the house, where they “found drug paraphernalia, items commonly used to smoke marijuana and a quantity of a substance that appeared to be marijuana” within reach of the children, Hightower told the Statesman.

The Boise Weekly also has a full report today; you can read it here. The Weekly's Andrew Crisp reports that Rinehart and her husband, Josh, went public over the case, speaking out on the Statehouse steps yesterday and questioning why police declared their sons in “imminent danger” and placed them in foster care. “We're taking issue with the 'imminent danger' charge,” Lindsey Rinehart said. “I am a multiple sclerosis patient. The reason I had cannabis in my household is I'm a multiple sclerosis patient.”

Rinehart has been prominent in the debate over medical marijuana in Idaho, testifying repeatedly and passionately to legislative committees in favor of legalizing the drug for medical use. Rather than take that step, state lawmakers this year passed a resolution declaring that Idaho will never legalize marijuana for any use.

Idaho patients on Oregon medical marijuana face border ordeal

Forty percent of marijuana seizures in Idaho consist of Oregon medical marijuana, according to Idaho State Police records - legal in that state in the right circumstances, but not for anyone across the border in Idaho. On the stretch of I-84 where ISP Trooper Justin Klitch patrols, it's 53 percent, the AP reports. That's led to an odd phenomenon on the Idaho border, in which longtime Idahoans risk arrest to go home from picking up their pot in Oregon, and they often get caught. “It's like crossing the Berlin Wall,” an Idaho woman told AP reporter Nigel Duara. “It's like going into another country.” Click below for Duara's full report.

Medical marijuana initiative snuffed out; backers collected just 5,000 signatures

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― An effort to get voters to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana in Idaho has been snuffed out. Compassionate Idaho Lindsey Rinehart says the Boise-based group fell far short of the 47,500 signature needed for a ballot initiative this fall. Rinehart tells KTVB-TV ( the campaign struggled to overcome challenges for funding and advertising, and ultimately collected only about 5,000 signatures from registered voters. Still, Rinehart says public surveys show support for medical marijuana in Idaho. Leaders of the group intend launch another campaign to get the question before voters in 2014. Idaho is surrounded by states like Washington, Oregon and Montana that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Republican Rep. Tom Trail failed again this year to get a bill legalizing medical marijuana approved by lawmakers.

Initiative pushes for medical marijuana

Conservative Idaho might not seem like the most fertile ground for a medical marijuana movement, but supporters have launched an initiative drive that could change the terms of the debate. The reason: 74 percent of Idahoans say they support allowing “terminally and seriously ill patients to use and purchase marijuana for medical purposes.” That was in this year's Boise State University public policy survey, a result so overwhelmingly favorable that researchers initially thought it had to be wrong.

Heidi Golden, a Boise florist and spokeswoman for “Compassionate Idaho,” said, “It's just so completely wrong that there is this wonderful, wonderful plant that is some of the best medicine you could have, with no side effects, it's nontoxic, and people are dying, they're going through a lot of pain. It's so unnecessary.”

The initiative, which is being coordinated through the “Compassionate Idaho” Facebook page, isn't as restrictive as a medical marijuana bill offered this year by Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow; it would let patients get more than twice as much marijuana - up to 2.5 ounces every 14 days - and in addition to allowing for registered dispensaries, would let patients grow their own or have a “primary care giver” do it for them; each primary care giver could supply up to four patients. Backers need 47,432 signatures to make the November 2012 ballot; they have another year - until April 30, 2012 - to gather those. Golden says the signature-gathering so far has been “going really well,” though the biggest event the group's hit so far was the Moscow Hemp Festival, where, according to the Facebook page, it gathered 535 signatures from 20 counties.

College of Idaho political scientist Jasper LiCalzi said, “What I think you could get out of this is if enough people are starting to sign this petition, that would poke the Legislature in next year's session maybe to pass Trail's legislation or look at it more closely.” You can read my full story here at

Three-quarters of Idahoans back medical marijuana for sickest patients

The respected Boise State University Public Policy survey, a statewide poll that's been conducted in the state for more than 20 years, yielded a surprising result Tuesday: 74 percent support for allowing “terminally and seriously ill patients to use and purchase marijuana for medical purposes.” Just 23 percent said “no” to that in the statewide survey, and 3 percent said they didn't know.

State Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, who has pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Idaho in precisely those situations, said, “I”m not surprised at all, because in similar states out here in the west, the results are 65 to 75 percent (in favor), as long as you focus, like we have, very narrowly on medical marijuana for folks who are in excruciating pain with long-term diseases.”

The statewide survey queried adults in 525 randomly selected Idaho households, included cell phone as well as land-line respondents, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. It also asked how strongly Idahoans agreed that the state “should allow the sale and manufacture of marijuana for medical purposes.” Those results were less overwhelming, with 46 percent agreeing and 46 percent disagreeing; you can read my full story here at

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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