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Medical Marijuana Act gets certified for signature collection

Must collect 55k signatures for 2020 ballot
Posted: 5:48 AM, Aug 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-12 07:48:35-04
First FDA-approved cannabis-based drug now available in the US

BOISE, Idaho — The drive to collect signatures to place a new medical marijuana initiative on the November 2020 ballot began Friday. The Idaho Secretary of State Lawrence Denney certified the initiative last week.

Chief Petitioner John Belville received notice of the certification Friday morning. Belville suffers from peripheral neuropathy, an excruciating pain syndrome. Doctors placed Belville on a regimen of opiate narcotics, including OxyContin and morphine to manage the condition. Due to the medications, his organs are beginning to fail.

“Medical cannabis has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be especially effective at relieving neuropathic pain,” said John’s son, Russ Belville, spokesperson for the Idaho Cannabis Coalition. “Having visited me in Oregon and trying it for himself, my dad knows what millions of Americans in 33 other states already know: medical marijuana works for his condition, period.”

John Belville is joined by three other petitioners who have filed to place medical marijuana on the 2020 Idaho ballot. The initiative provides safe access to cannabis and other medical cannabis products through a system of secure dispensaries regulated by the state.

Patients with chronic illnesses or severe disabilities must meet an exacting qualification process mandated by law. Patients with demonstrated physical or financial hardship may qualify to grow a small cannabis garden.

“Nobody should be condemned to suffer just because they live in the wrong state,” said Bill Esbensen with the Idaho Cannabis Coalition. “Our initiative brings Idaho up to speed with states like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and West Virginia by protecting people who are just trying to treat their medical condition with a non-toxic plant.”

Starting last weekend, organizers will be canvassing the state to collect the necessary 55,057 valid signatures of registered Idaho voters by April 30, 2020 to place medical marijuana on the ballot. The petition must collect six percent of the votes in the last gubernatorial election from 18 of Idaho's 35 legislative districts. This ensures the petition has statewide support.