Idaho Medical Choice Act (2012)

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The Idaho Medical Choice Act did not make the 2012 ballot in the state of Idaho as an initiated state statute. The measure would have protected patients who use medical marijuana from criminal prosecution. The initiative effort was organized by the group Compassionate Idaho and was approved for circulation for 2012. [1]

Text of initiative

Short ballot title

The short ballot title of the measure read as follows:[1]

An initiative providing that qualified patients using medical marijuana shall not be subject to criminal prosecution.

Long ballot title

The long ballot title of the measure read as follows:[2]

"An initiative relating to medical marijuana; amending Title 39, Idaho Code, by addition of a new Chapter 47, to be known as the “Idaho Medical Choice Act”, to provide protection from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal and other penalties, those patients who use Medical Marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating medical conditions, as well as their primary caregivers and those who are authorized to produce Marijuana for medical purposes. To establish a registry of qualifying patients and their primary caregivers whom shall be issued a registry identification card which shall be valid for one year. To establish a Marijuana grow site registration system to authorize production of Marijuana. To establish the maximum amount of Marijuana a qualifying patient may possess is two (2) ounces or 2 less of usable Marijuana and nine (9) or fewer Marijuana plants, of which not more than five (5) may be mature. To establish criminal penalties for knowingly selling a document that falsely purports to be registration card issued that has been altered or for any card holder who sells or distributes Marijuana to a person who is not allowed to use Marijuana for medical purposes."

Petition text

The petition text of the article read:

Relating to Medical Marijuana; Amending Title 39, Idaho Code by the addition of a new Chapter 47, Title 39, Idaho Code, to provide a short title, to provide legislative finding, to define terms, to provide for registration, to provide for certification, to provide for protection against certain penalties and discipline, denial of rights and privileges, searches, arrests and prosecutions, to provide for alternative treatment centers, to provide that certain activities are prohibited, to provide that certain activities shall constitute misdemeanors, to provide for other offenses, to provide for the dispensation of marijuana, to provide for an exemption from criminal liability and to provide a burden of proof, to provide for the receipt of funds and fees, to provide for reports by the director to the governor and the legislature, to provide that certain actions shall not be required, to provide for state immunity from liability and to provide for rulemaking.[3]



  • At the Moscow Hempfest event held in Idaho, Lindsey Rhinehart, an organizer of the effort, asked people in attendence to sign the initiative petition stating, "We need this legalized for medical patients. I have multiple sclerosis. We have other members of our group with fibromyalgia. We know cancer patients. We know people who need this legalized in Idaho. If we don't get these signatures, we can't vote on it."[4]
  • According to Dr. Christian Shull, an oncologist in the state, "The chemically-active ingredient in marijuana thc primarily has three effects that we look for in cancer patients. One would be the effect that it has on their appetite. The second effect we look for it that it is quite an antiemetic which means that it works to help control nausea quite well. And then the third effect that we get with marijuana is that it can give you a sense of well-being, kind of gives them a calming sensation that patients who are facing very difficult illness can really benefit from."[5]



  • According to an article in the Bonners Ferry Herald, opponents argued at the time that marijuana: is too dangerous, is not FDA approved, can lead to addiction, can lead to use of other drugs, negatively impacts fertility, impairs the ability to operate motor vehicles, and damages lungs, brain and immune system.[6]

Path to the ballot

Initiative supporters must have collected at least 47,432 valid signatures from registered voters by May 1, 2012 in order to place an initiated state statute on the ballot. This equaled to 6% of the qualified electors of the state at the time of the last general election. The measure's supporters did not submit signatures by the deadline.

See also

Additional reading