Medical marijuana supporters have come to Pocatello

by Jamie Hale
A handful of protesters stood at the corner of Yellowstone Ave. and Alameda Rd. Wednesday evening in support of a potential medical marijuana bill in Idaho. Some argued for full legalization of the drug, while others supported only medical laws, but all agreed that the current restrictions are unfair.
“The laws were made out of fear, and there’s always prohibition, so when you’ve got laws that were made out of fear through prohibition, and poor education, those laws are going to be more strict,” said Lindsey Rinehart, a representative from Boise’s pro-medicinal marijuana group Compassionate Idaho.
Her organization is trying to gather support for the Idaho Medical Choice Act, a proposed bill that would legalize medicinal marijuana in the state. Rinehart said the organization needs about 50,000 signatures by April 30 to get the issue on the ballot. If it gets there, she’s convinced the majority of Idahoans would support the bill.
Despite at least one poll showing overwhelming public support, Idaho refuses to budge its strict marijuana laws. In fact, Idaho and Utah are the only states west of Texas that haven’t relaxed their laws. Between the two, Idaho is stricter and has many more restrictions. The penalty for being under the influence of marijuana in Idaho, for example, is up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to a 2011 Boise State University Public Policy Survey, 74 percent of Idahoans support the purchase of medicinal marijuana for terminally and seriously ill patients. Strangely enough, the same poll showed the population split evenly on whether or not people should be allowed to sell and manufacture the drug. That is one of many arguments the pro-marijuana groups hope will turn the tide in the state.
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