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Cannabis activists in Idaho have launched a bid to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in the state and will soon be collecting signatures to put a voter initiative on the ballot for the 2020 election. The legalization initiative was filed with the Idaho Secretary of State on Tuesday by members of the Idaho Cannabis Coalition. Once the initiative has been reviewed by the Secretary of State, activists will have until the end of April to gather the more than 55,000 signatures necessary for the initiative to qualify for the 2020 ballot.
If the initiative is successful, patients with a qualifying serious medical condition would be allowed to possess up to four ounces of cannabis for medicinal use. It would also establish a system to regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana and protect medicinal cannabis users from discrimination in employment, housing, and education.
“It’s a pretty carefully thought-out regulatory system both for patients and providers,” said James Piotrowski, an attorney representing the initiative effort.
John Belville of the Idaho Cannabis Coalition has a chronic condition known as peripheral neuropathy that causes severe pain. His doctors prescribed strong narcotics that were not only ineffective but harmful to his health. Belville learned that medical marijuana could bring him relief while he was visiting neighboring Oregon, where cannabis is legal.
“I took this little eye dropper and put it under my tongue and waited about 15 minutes and the pain went away,” Belville said about his initial experience with cannabis oil. “Now, I don’t know what anyone thinks about anything else but I’ll tell you right now this stuff works.”
Cannabis activist Serra Frank of the Group Legalize Idaho said that it is time to catch up with surrounding states, most of which have already legalized cannabis in some form.
“The Idaho Cannabis Coalition’s long-awaited petition provides real hope to the sick and disabled citizens of Idaho,” Frank told High Times in an email. “We have watched anxiously from our little Island of Prohibition, as the rest of the country changes their laws to catch up to common sense.”
Frank, who left Idaho for Oregon so she could use medical marijuana legally, will be able to return home if the initiative succeeds.
“We’ve been waiting for so long to have a chance to use this natural medicine without risking persecution, prosecution, incarceration, and the destruction of our families,” she said. “We finally see a light in the darkness – a chance to be able to access our medicine like normal patients, and buy it from a regulated store, instead of in the parking lot from a black market dealer.”
Piotrowski dismissed suggestions that the initiative was a step to legalizing cannabis for adult use.
“We are absolutely not trying to push something that’s going to be a wink and a nod for recreational use,” he said. “This is truly a medical-use law that we’re proposing, that would focus on patients who need or can use the drug for medical purposes.”
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