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Idaho's Newest Medical Marijuana Initiative

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Boise, Idaho --- Marijuana as medicine in Idaho: it's a growing movement.

Long championed by Idaho Representative Tom Trail (R-Moscow), the Gem State's last medical marijuana initiative failed in he House of Representatives just this spring.

However, a group of Idahoans continues to work to make cannabis legal here in Idaho, and they want to put it on the state's ballot in 2012 for a citizens' vote.

Yet simple decriminalization isn't all the group called Ccompassionate Idaho is working for. Members like Lindsey Rinehart -- who suffers from multiple sclerosis -- want to draw a footprint for a thriving, medical marijuana culture in Idaho designed to bring compassion to patients.

The footprint is called Idaho's Medical Choice Act, and a large part of the legislative principles are based on current law in states like Oregon, Washington, and Montana where medical marijuana is now legal in different capacities.

The plan includes state-regulated medical dispensaries, permits for patients and cannabis growers, and strict government regulations -- including mandatory taxation of pot products.

Under the plan, Idaho patients would be allowed to possess up to two ounces of medicinal marijuana, and nine cannabis plants, of which only five could be mature and able to produce potent buds.

In addition, Idaho's Medical Choice Act would allow third-party, therapeutic growers to be licensed to provide marijuana for patients, but there are limits to the quantity of marijuana they could grow, and restrictions that would require their pot to pass through state regulated marijuana dispensaries as well.

Sponsored by the State and Legitimized by the Medical Community

Rinehart says she takes more than a dozen pills for pain, nausea, and nerve damage caused by her multiple sclerosis. She questions the long-term side-effects of that medication, including opiates and narcotics that have been proven to cause damage to the liver and kidneys in patients.

What's more, Rinehart says independent research shows evidence that the medical use of cannabis -- or high grade marijuana -- helps curb the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, helping to eliminate nausea and other pain-related conditions.

Would it cut down on her use of painkillers?

"If I could use medical marijuana, I could probably eliminate or significantly reduce my intake of narcotics," Rinehart said.

But Not Everyone Agrees with Rinehart.

Experts at Idaho's Office of Drug Policy say the legalization of a new Idaho medical industry based on marijuana could open the door to a cottage industry of marijuana suppliers who don't obey the medical verbiage in the act.

Director Debbie Fields says while she supports compassion for patients, the policies written into Idaho's Medical Choice Act are too vague, and potentially harmful for her office to support.

"What we're finding is loopholes here that you could drive a truck through," fields said.

In other words, Fields feels that while many patients would get access to high-grade marijuana, that same high grade weed could be flooding the streets.

Fields criticism is supported by controlled substance experts, including former federal drug prosecutor Monte Stiles and expert pain doctor Dr. Rick Dubose, who operates a private practice in Boise.

Both experts agreed that more government studies need to be performed to legitimize the use of medical marijuana and identify which of the 400 chemicals in its molecular makeup are actually therapeutic -- and which are simply recreational.

"There is some truth to the fact that tetrahydracannabinol does reduce nausea," Dubose said.

"What we still need to understand is what the rest of the 400 other chemicals do."

However, for Lindsey Rinehart, that debate is a moot point. She believes everything in cannabis is generally helpful, and the state's prohibition of the plant is a waste of time.

"Prohibition doesn't work, so whether it's legal or illegal it's still coming into this state," Rinehart said.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: fox12idaho.com
Author: Matt Standal
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: WorldNow and KTRV
Website: Idaho's Newest Medical Marijuana Initiative
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