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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

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

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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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