Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Islands of Prohibition - Marijuana States of Denial


As of the November 2016 election, eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized both medical marijuana and adult recreational marijuana. Another 20 states now have legal medical marijuana programs, which protect citizens whose doctors recommend marijuana as part of medical treatment for debilitating and chronic illnesses. 

Sixteen more have passed legislation that allows for the compassionate use of marijuana-derived CBD oils for children with seizure disorders.

Six states allow industrial hemp and 20 have decriminalized simple marijuana possession. Only two states in the country, West Virginia and Indiana, have strict industrial hemp laws, and just one state, Nebraska, has decriminalization only.

This leaves just three states in the nation without any pro-cannabis law on the books. The harsh marijuana laws of Kansas, South Dakota and Idaho have never been reformed in any way. These states are islands of draconian Prohibition, surrounded by states with at least one reform of their marijuana laws. Citizens of these states have only the possibility of fines and jail time for anything related to cannabis.

Arguments against cannabis reform in these states include: increased access for children, concerns regarding impaired driving, and the fact that marijuana continues to remain a Schedule I substance in the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 

Some Opponents argue that marijuana hasn’t been vigorously researched according to FDA standards. Some even deny the beneficial revenue derived from taxes in states that have legalized marijuana.
Elisha Figueroa, the director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, wrote an article with such a denial. Published as an opinion piece in September 2016 in the Idaho State Journal, she quotes Andrew Freedman, director of the Colorado Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination, and Dave Rodrigues, executive director of the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, to support her argument that revenue and taxes from legalization in Colorado and Washington are “not providing the relief once promised.” Freedman calls legalization for tax revenue a “red herring” and a “myth,” and Rodrigues believes that “many of the reported outcomes show the exact opposite of the goals that sold the initiative to the voters.”  

According to a Tax Foundation Special Report titled “Marijuana Legalization and Taxes: Lessons for Other States from Colorado and Washington” by the independent tax policy research organization, the numbers coming in from Colorado and Washington tell a different story.

In Colorado, voters were promised a $70 million dollar tax revenue from legalization, with $40 million reserved for the public schools and the other $30 million for other needs of the state budget. Voters approved this promise with Amendment 64 in November 2012, and retail marijuana sales began on January 1, 2014. Since then, Colorado marijuana tax revenue had a slow start, but now “greatly exceeds original estimates of $70 million per year.” CNN.com confirms this and points out that in Colorado’s first fiscal year of legalization—with the effective tax rate on marijuana totaling 29%—retail marijuana sales produced $106 million in tax revenue. The collections in 2015 increased to $163 million.

Tax Foundation reports that “marijuana tax revenues were twice those of Colorado alcohol taxes in 2015.” Tax collections are estimated to exceed previous years for 2016, possibly quadruple the revenue of alcohol taxes. Because of concerns that the tax rate was too high and contributed to continued black market sales, Colorado intends to implement a reduction in marijuana taxes for 2017.

Washington retail sales began around the same time as in Colorado, after voters approved Initiative 502 in November 2012 with a promise of “as much as $1.9 billion over five years, 40% going to the state general fund and local budget, and the remaining 60% intended for substance abuse prevention, research, education 
and health care.”

Beginning in July 2015, a neutral 37% excise tax—compared to the 104% effective tax rate on cigarettes and 11% effective tax rate on alcohol—was imposed on marijuana. This came after a brief struggle with separate taxes on processors, retailers and sales. Almost $77 million in marijuana-related taxes was collected from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. Tax Foundation stated in April 2016 that sales averaged over $2 million a day, which would mean excise tax revenue could reach 
$270 million this year.

Even the experiences in Oregon and Alaska, which recently legalized recreational cannabis, are contrary to the Idaho Drug Czar’s article. Oregon collected $3.48 million in taxes on recreational marijuana in the first month of legal sales—three times the official revenue projections. Tax Foundation anticipates “future revenue could reach around $60 million per year.” In a comment for Alaska Dispatch News, Ken Alper, director of the Department of Revenue’s tax division, said “the state’s annual estimate is $12 million,” but noted that in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, tax revenues have “far exceeded forecasts.”

Washington, DC, which has faced legal hurdles regarding the use of funds to enforce legalization of a substance that remains illegal on the federal level, anticipates $20 million a year in tax revenue once red tape is removed.

Other potential contributions to state economies go beyond the taxes imposed on recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana taxes, license fees, business fees, business taxes, non-marijuana products such as pipes and accessories, and non-marijuana (but related) businesses taxes all contribute to the growing economic boost that legal cannabis may provide. New products and new jobs also benefit legal marijuana states.

Taxes and business revenue aren’t the only way to balance a state budget. No longer using taxpayer dollars to arrest, incarcerate and prosecute marijuana consumers will save money and is more logically affordable to the states than continued prohibition.

According to Jon Gettman, PhD, in the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform for DrugScience.org, Idaho spent $28.87 million on marijuana-related expenses, out of a $685 million budget for criminal justice in 2006.

This figure was determined by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)’s formula to generally estimate the criminal justice costs of drug‐related arrests. Dr. Gettman points out that “estimating costs of different types of arrests is a very complicated challenge because of the differences between individual offenses and the investigative and follow‐up work they require,” but goes on to demonstrate that the use of the percentage basis method can provide a general estimate of marijuana-related criminal justice costs.

The ONDCP’s method is to first calculate the percentage of total arrests by the specific type of arrest and then to apply that percentage to total criminal justice system costs. For example, Dr. Gettman estimates that of the “74,520 arrests in Idaho in 2006, there were 3,140 marijuana arrests that year, accounting for 4.21% of all arrests in Idaho for 2006.  Consequently, according to this percentage basis method of estimation, marijuana arrests cost $28.87 million in Idaho for 2006.”

Data from the Idaho State Police’s report on Idaho drug- and alcohol-related arrests and charges for 2006–2013, showed “a sharp increase in the rate of drug charges involving marijuana between 2012 and 2013, moving from 14.5% in 2012 to 43.3% in 2013.”

Idaho legislative reports also show a decrease in state spending on criminal justice costs, and even in total arrest figures. Out of the 62,914 total arrests in Idaho in 2013, 12,236 were for drug offenses and, of those, 5,289 were marijuana-related. This accounts for 8.4% of arrests in Idaho for 2013.

The total criminal justice budget for Idaho in 2013 was smaller than in 2006—with the total number of Idaho arrests being smaller—but the total number of Idaho marijuana-related arrests was larger. Whether this is related to neighboring state (Oregon and Washington) legalization is speculative, but the numbers are clear. Following the same calculation method used by the ONDCP and Dr. Gettman, figures show that of Idaho’s $262.4 million criminal justice budget in 2013, $22.04 million* was spent on marijuana users.

*This figure does not include fiscal statistics relating to child welfare prosecutions or state budget spent on social services, such as foster care costs, parental assessments, chemical dependency services, and other Idaho Department of Health and Welfare expenditures relating to marijuana in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.

An example is the case of Kelsey Osborne, a Gooding, Idaho, mother currently being prosecuted for giving her three-year-old cannabis butter during seizures and hallucinations purportedly caused by withdrawal from the antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

Also of note, Idaho Governor Butch Otter vetoed a CBD affirmative defense bill passed through the Idaho House and Senate in 2015. The proposed law would have provided this mother a defense in court for her action of treating her daughter’s condition with cannabis.

Idaho spends approximately $20–$30 million each year to arrest and prosecute marijuana users. To many, this appears to be a waste of state resources, especially when legalized states predict adding twice that amount to the budget from taxes related to marijuana sales each year.

While numerous states, like Idaho, refuse to stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year on incarcerating non-violent offenders, the race for cannabis freedom has already started for the rest of the country.

States have begun to acknowledge the potential that legalization has for boosting their economy. Many lawmakers actively seek ways to implement the collection of taxes, revenue and numerous benefits of marijuana reform. With California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine now joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, DC, in reform of outdated marijuana laws, the push for legalization is building momentum.

Idaho appears to need a citizens’ effort to reform marijuana laws, because of the attitudes of local politicians and other opponents. Idaho native, Russ Belville, points out in a HighTimes.com article that it’s important to stop waiting for politicians to change marijuana laws. “It’s not a matter of when they are going to change the laws; it’s a matter of when you are going to change the laws,” states Belville.

It’s difficult to imagine the citizens of illegal states willing to be stuck on the wrong side of history or left behind in the proverbial dust of the new “billion dollar” green rush when there is money to be made. 
Despite opposition on the state level, Idaho’s citizens are still trying to change their laws. Idaho currently has a medical marijuana petition being circulated through the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association. With enough signatures, medical marijuana could be on the 2018 ballot.

In the meantime, cannabis entrepreneurs and business investors wait for the untapped markets in states like Idaho to open up through law reform. Many eagerly await the state’s acceptance of the profits and industry that marijuana and hemp have to offer.

Green Majority, a new business venture, hopes to become Idaho’s first medical marijuana dispensary. CEO Koby Conrad is “just waiting for laws to change so that Green Majority can operate legally.”

He hopes to open their doors and start helping Idaho patients as soon as possible. 
In the meantime, Green Majority has pledged that the content of their website and “all efforts will revolve around promoting the legalization of cannabis in Idaho to help to change the current archaic laws.”

Originally published in CannaBiz Journal - 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year - New Citation; Still Fighting Idaho's Marijuana Laws

On January 1st, 2017, Idaho Moms for Marijuana hosted the 2nd annual New Year's Smoke Out Protest on the Idaho Capitol Steps. 

Just as I did last year, I coordinated with the Idaho State Police prior to the event, to ensure communication and civility between our members and law enforcement.

A couple dozen protesters showed up, along with a couple dozen police officers. A few less on both sides than last year, but combined, made up a pretty good sized group. 

I spoke with the assigned Sergeant before everything began. He said that as a long as things went like last year, anyone who participated in the act of civil disobedience would be detained, cited, and then released. He pointed out the troopers that would be giving the citations, and said everything could be done outside this time, instead of going into the capitol building like last year.

This made me happy. It was actually quite an ordeal having to go into the Capitol and down to the basement to receive a citation. My health has consistently deteriorated and my mobility has drastically decreased since last year and I was grateful for the saved energy. 


I was also pleased to hear about the cite & release because I already had things set up with Aladdin Bail Bonds just in case I was actually arrested and taken to jail. Not being arrested meant that I could use that bail money to take care of family and buy more meds for myself instead. So, I told our crowd that it was okay if no one joined me again, and that I would accept the citation alone. 

We did a press conference first, with local media outlets KBOI and KIVI, where several attendees, including Koby Conrad of Green Majority, gave statements to the reporters. 

Koby discussed the Idaho Medical Mariuana Act, and the need for registered voters to seek out the petition to sign, and for as many as possible to circulate a petition to the people they know.
  

I never remember everything that I say during these things. I really hate being in the spotlight, and typically kind of just ramble in front of the camera when it's put in my face. Last year, I tried to write a speech to ensure what needed to be addressed was discussed, but of course couldn't memorize it and reading it just took forever. So this year, I just rambled instead. I'm sure everyone was grateful for the shortened speech, since it was 13 degrees and snowing!

I know I spoke about the need for reform of laws, that officers aren't there to make the laws - only enforce them - and that if we want these laws changed, we need to get our boots on the ground and make it happen. 
The media quoted me as saying: 
Speaking with the KBOI cameraman about my new citation.

"We are completely surrounded by legal marijuana, by C.B.D, and by decriminalization, and Idaho is on the wrong side of history and it's up to us how long we are going to stay there"

"We are challenging Governor Otter and his veto of the CBD bill, we're challenging every citizen of Idaho to stand up and join us and let's actually make this beneficial medicine available to our neighbors."


and "We believe it is our right to choose what goes into our bodies and we should not be criminalized for giving ourselves and our families a better quality of life,"
Then it was almost 4:20pm - time to light the joint. 

Except that the Sergeant had already told me that they cannot let me light it. Last year, when I pulled out the joint, I felt like I was going to be tackled on the capitol steps, so this time, I had told the Sergeant that I would just hand it to them if I could continue the rally before they detained me to give me the citation. He said they had actually spoken about that prior to the rally, and yes, I could continue and hand the joint to the trooper when I was finished.

I remember I joked about changing the name of our event from "New Year's Smoke Out" to "Give Your Weed to the Idaho State Police" which elicited a few giggles from everyone. I know I spoke about the need for clear and defined boundaries for law enforcement and medical marijuana patients as we reform these laws.

I believe I spoke of compassion, and that it isn't a legal matter, a criminal matter, or a political matter. That Idahoans are compassionate people who, I believe, do not want to throw people in jail for using marijuana as medicine to end their suffering.

I spoke about the federal government and the DEA's stance that Marijuana has no medical value and is highly addictive and dangerous, and that these things have been disproven by science and history. 

Then I know I mentioned that there is one thing in which I DO agree with the DEA's position, and that is that "Smoked Mariuana is not modern medicine."

I believe it's definitely not modern medicine. 

Prohibition has delayed the medical evolution of Marijuana.

Instead of sitting in the parking lot at Walgreens, waiting on some dude I really don't know, who could rip me off by selling me non-medical grade crap without any repercussion, I would rather go into the store and get my medicine the way all Idahoans get theirs. 
In a modern form from someone who has been trained to answer my questions about the medicine. 

I pulled out a CannaCap, and said THIS is how I want to take my medicine. 

This is modern medicine. We should all have safe access to our medicine in the form that we prefer. 

Just like at a pharmacy.

The CannaCaps I had in the container are NOT merely CBD oil as KIVI suggested in their article. The caps are marijuana infused coconut oil in capsules. 


CannaCaps are one of the best ways I have ever found to take my medicine.

In reality, the only reason I can't use them daily like I need is because I cannot obtain the right quantity and quality in Idaho for an affordable price. 

If I could have enough of the right Marijuana to make CannaCaps, I would use them every day. If I had CannaCaps every day, I could possibly be capable of leaving my house more frequently, or even have the mobility to work a job of some sort and be a productive member of society like I long to do.

The Caps I had at the Capitol came from a larger stash I was blessed with last month. The only reason I made it through Christmas and all the latest winter storms was because I received them as a gift from a friend. They are difficult to get and it was definitely even more difficult saving them for the rally, and then just handing them over to the police. CannaCaps help me feel so much better than just smoking marijuana. 

I had two CannaCaps on me - a light one and a dark one. They are a lot like Nyquil and Dayquil. One is for night time and one is for during the day, because the effects of each capsule are different based on the strain from which it is made. 


The light capsule (night time) was made with the AC/DC strain, and the dark capsule (day time) was made with Durban Poison. Both strains are very beneficial for my condition because of the levels they contain of numerous Cannabinoids, including THC, THCA, THCV, CBN, CBG and CBD

Durban Poison
Durban Poison is pure Sativa strain, that has an uplifting effect, provides energy and it's mood altering effect aids in depression.

AC/DC
AC/DC is a Sativa dominant hybrid that has a lot of pain relief, with no psychoactive effects, and really helps with sleep.  

Both are anti-inflammatory which really helps with my inflammatory bladder condition.

After the rally was finished, I handed the container to the trooper and he walked with me to his squad car to write me the citation. He was very considerate, and gave me extra time to traverse the snowy capitol steps so I didn't fall on my butt.

As I waited for the officer to write up the citation, I spoke with another trooper about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and their view on ending the violent and deadly War on Drugs

In the end, I received a citation for Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Marijuana joint and two CannaCaps, and Possession of Paraphernalia just for the container. 

Same as last year.

While it's ridiculous that I face up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for each container that I've used in my protests, in addition to up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for merely possessing Marijuana on the Capitol steps, I have to commend the Idaho State Police. 

By not actually arresting me, and only issuing a citation, it shows some of the benefits that could come from decriminalization of Marijuana in Idaho. 

Idaho is already wasting a ton of money prosecuting me for these charges. Funding that could be better used to prosecute real criminals, people who actually harm other people. 

By not arresting me, this year or last, ISP has saved the taxpayers of Idaho quite a bit of money that would have otherwise been spent to transport, book, and house me in the Ada County Jail. 

Decriminalization provides police the ability to do precisely what ISP used their discretion to do. The same that Payette County Sheriff Chad Huff has previously suggested - issue a citation and let the courts deal with it instead of arresting people for Marijuana.

The only difference between what ISP did, what Sheriff Huff suggests, and decriminalization, is that with decrim, we could officially remove the criminal element (the misdemeanor) from the charge. That way, when the courts deal with it, it isn't a bunch of money spent on prosecuting and jailing nonviolent people for merely possessing marijuana. It's an infraction instead, that poses a fine on the offender instead of prosecution and jail time. 

While this isn't the best Idaho could do for it's citizens, it would definitely be a good start.

In the mean time, I will keep fighting against Idaho's illogical War on Marijuana. We've got a petition for which to collect signatures, Kelsey Osborne's fight against CPSBoise Hempfest coming up in April, Global Marijuana March in May, and more in the works. Maybe we'll even do a 3rd New Year's Smoke Out for 2018.

I have to enter a plea on my new charges next week, and I have court for my other charges, so I will be going in on January 10th, 2017 to do both.  


I welcome anyone who supports changing Idaho's marijuana laws to attend!

Court begins at 9:30am at the Ada County Court House.
Learn more at the facebook event for Court Support


More to come! Check back soon for updates.


Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Adventures in Weed Court, Pt. 2

And 9 months later, my adventures in Idaho's Weed Court finally continued...

And then was continued again. 

Last week, I appeared in court for a hearing regarding two of my cases. Four of the charges are marijuana related, two of which stem from my act of civil disobedience on the Capitol Steps last New Year's Day. The hearing was to argue a motion submitted by the Ada County Public Defender's Office on my behalf that requested jury instruction on the Necessity Defense.

The motion had been submitted by my latest public defender in the cases, a woman I have never met. The attorney assigned to my case was suddenly switched in October, claiming change in hierarchy of the office. I was already having difficulty communicating with the public defender's office regarding another civil rights related case that had been juggled through 5 different attorneys in only 3 months. So, when they switched the public defender in my Marijuana cases, I finally gave up on any kind of adequate defense from the Ada County Public Defender's office and decided I really need a paid attorney, or to just do it myself instead. 


Luckily, I know a constitutional rights attorney, R. Thomas Curl of Mountain Valley Law, who has been helping my friend, Kelsey Osborne fight Child Protective Services and an Injury to Child charge over Marijuana. So I fired the public defender's office and figured out how to retain Tom Curl as counsel. 

Tom submitted a substitution of counsel the day I retained him in November, and immediately requested discovery from the State. The prosecution delayed in providing the discovery until just days before the scheduled hearing, several weeks after the request was submitted. So, we decided to go to the hearing and have my attorney request a continuance on the motion in order for him to have adequate time to prepare for the hearing. 

The weekend before the hearing, Tom sent me a new plea offer from the prosecution. It was essentially exactly the same as before - plead guilty to 2 of 5 charges, receive approximately 90 days jail time w/ all but 3 days suspended, with work release/SILD options; fines with more than half suspended; 2 years unsupervised probation. The only difference was there wasn't an offer of community service, and they wanted more money in fines. 

It's quite a good offer, just like before, if you are someone who is wanting to get through the system as quickly as possible. Someone who doesn't want to go to court, or go in front of a judge and jury, or isn't willing to go to jail. But the same issues still apply as the last offer. 

Mainly - what is the point of standing up against injustice if I just bend my morals and beliefs for the easy way out once faced with the exact laws I'm fighting. 

Marijuana prohibition is based on lies. Laws based on lies are bad laws. States that prosecute bad laws need to be held accountable. Bad laws are unjust laws and willfully and civilly violating unjust laws to raise awareness of the need for change has proven through the generations to be an effective and significant method of pushing for justice and change in the law.

And Marijuana laws in Idaho really need to change.


Not just for me,and my family, but for every Idahoan who is suffering and civilly disobeying unjust laws every day just to have a better quality of life. Especially when that life is in grasp if merely allowed safe access to this very beneficial medicine. The easy way out is not worth the change that could come from Idahoans refusing to criminalize their neighbors just for choosing a better quality of life over a bad law. 

So I said no to the plea agreement and went to court on December 19th.

When Idaho Fourth Judicial District Judge Michael Oths began the hearing, my attorney requested the continuance to have enough time to prepare our expert witness and be ready to argue the motion. 

The prosecution objected, mainly because they already had their witness in the court room ready to testify against the request for the Necessity Defense - the arresting officer, Trooper Brandalyn Crapo, from the New Year's Day protest. She had brought with her the thick envelope of cannabis educational information I had provided to Lt. Doty of the Idaho State Police at the protest, admitting before the hearing that she hadn't read any of it and didn't know what was in it.


Idaho State Trooper, Brandalyn Crapo, arresting me on the Idaho Capitol Steps - January 1st, 2016

Judge Oths questioned the relevance that testimony from a police officer would have in regards to a medical necessity and the prosecution argued that my act of civil disobedience was during a protest rally, that there had been a rally in 2011, and that Idaho Moms for Marijuana has a rally planned again for January 1st, 2017. The prosecution suggested that because my act of civil disobedience was done in public, in protest of Idaho's marijuana laws, that it wasn't a medical necessity for me to possess the marijuana at the event. He even mentioned that if it was for medical use, that could have been done at my home and one case was done in public on the steps of the State Capitol. Judge Oths asked if the event was one where other people may have also attempted to disobey the law in political protest, and the prosecution confirmed that it was.

The prosecution also suggested that there wasn't actually a "medical necessity defense" in Idaho. Judge Oths agreed, but informed the prosecution that he had already researched several cases of common law of necessity used as defense in Idaho Marijuana cases, where the necessity was for medical use. One such case included a trafficking case, and it had been applied in that case.

Judge Oths granted our continuance, and set another pretrial date for January 10th 2017 to determine what direction the cases will be going.

In the mean time, I will be attending Idaho Moms for Marijuana's 2nd annual New Years Smoke Out/Protest. We will gather with signs again on the Capitol Steps this Sunday (New Year's Day - 1/11/17), and share stories about the need for reform in Idaho, including Kelsey Osborne's current case against CPS and Twin Falls County. We will protest specifically against Governor Butch Otter's veto of the 2015 CBD bill and Elisha Figuroa's involvement and obstinate refusal to acknowledge medical science. 

We will also have Idaho Medical Marijuana Association's new medical marijuana petition for registered voters to sign and I'll be participating in an act of civil disobedience, even if I am standing alone again. 

Friends and family have asked me why I would do it a second time, even with charges still pending. Won't it hurt my case? My answer - because, to me, legalizing a better quality of life for myself, my loved ones, and my neighbors is that important.


It's important we keep talking about this.
Idaho drug warriors refuse to have the conversation, so we must keep pushing the discussion.

And I will push for Cannabis awareness, education and discussion in Idaho as long as I call it my home. Even if that home is behind bars, in the county bed and breakfast, and being hosted by Idaho's finest law enforcement at the cost of the tax payers.

If that's what my neighbors truly want... to criminalize me for helping my family.

But I already know it isn't what they want.

I know my fellow Idahoans. I know my neighbors.
They are kind, compassionate people.

I know Idaho wants medical marijuana.
And it's only a matter of time before we get it.

To me, this is just one of the steps along the way.



Friday, October 21, 2016

Marijuana Injury to a Child: Dangerous vs. Illegal

I remember the first time I saw a child exposed to Marijuana.

I was in the first year of my Cannabis Journey, finding medical benefits for my chronic painful bladder condition through frequent use of an illegal drug. I was just meeting other Cannabis consumers in my hometown of Boise, Idaho and had never really interacted with pot smokers other than as a teenager. I had already started researching the history, science and politics surrounding Marijuana, although I had not yet encountered information on the toxicity of the drug, or it's impact on children.

I remember how I felt, watching my new friend's child crawl into his father's lap, while his father was smoking a joint. His father just let him climb right up, unconcerned that he was smoking marijuana at the time. I remember the feeling of disapproval I felt towards this father that would allow his son to be around what I still believed to be a potentially "dangerous" drug, especially to children.

That was over 10 years ago, and now after a decade of research on Cannabis, thinking back on that moment, I feel like a FOOL.

Between the 10,000 year history of mankind's relationship to this plant, with absolutely zero recorded instances of fatality or any kind of toxic effect caused by Cannabis, and the DEA Administrative Court Ruling that finds the toxicity of Marijuana is SO LOW that it is physically impossible to consume enough marijuana to induce death;

Plus the largest study of it's kind done on the effects of Cannabis smoke and the lungs resulting in no cancer connection and potential protective benefit, as well as the most in-depth study ever done on Cannabis and Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and developing children concluding that not only is Marijuana NOT harmful and DOES NOT have any sort of negative impact on a developing mind, but also that the children of Cannabis using mother's are more advanced than the children of non-Cannabis using mothers;

Not to forget the pressure from CNN Medical Correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, on the public and medical professions to do research into the safety and medical benefits of Cannabis and make it available, the use of Cannabis oils in Colorado Neonatal Care for epileptic infants, the US Government patent (#6630507) on the neuro-protectant properties of Cannabis, the history that shows Cannabis prohibition is based on racism and corporate interests and not public safety or real science, and so much more;

I definitely feel like a fool for my feelings at that time. After all of my research and experiences with Cannabis, as an activist, a patient, and as a mother, I now know that it was absurd of me to think that any harm could come from that loving father by holding his child in his lap and smoking a joint.

It makes sense though. Why I would have those kind of feelings... feelings propagated through fear mongering misinformation passed down through the generations, through my parents, my public education, and society as a whole... it was my instinct as a mother to protect that child from what society has deemed a "dangerous" drug. 

It's the same type of feeling when I see mothers holding babies while smoking tobacco cigarettes.

But, despite the very obvious dangers of smoking tobacco, and harms of second hand smoke, and nicotine toxicity, no one calls Child Protective Services over tobacco.

Because it's the parent's choice.
AND IT'S LEGAL.


Marijuana & Child Protective Services

There are close to half a million children in foster care in this country at any given time, with only approximately 20% being removed from their homes over documented abuse or neglect. 

The other 80% are there for what I've heard called "garbage can" allegations, such as a dirty household, unstable home environment, conflict in the household, "off grid" lifestyles, natural medicine, home births, refusing immunizations, parental drug use and more.

As a marijuana activist, and as a family advocate, I have encountered hundreds, if not thousands, of CPS related stories, mostly related to Marijuana use as a "concern" to allege child abuse/neglect. 

I've heard heart wrenching stories from mothers who have had their babies torn from them at birth because of positive THC tests due to exposure from the mother's medical marijuana use, even in legal states. I've heard about children taken from parents who have only admitted to CPS about having used Marijuana recently, and then the parents are forced to jump through chemical dependency hoops and services, just to end with the children adopted out, or worse.

A few years ago, I had front row seats to the Fight for Lilly Fisher, primarily based upon her father's medical marijuana use in Washington State - which had a 15 year old medical marijuana law, with parental protections, and had just voted to stop incarcerating non violent, responsible, Cannabis users. 

That fight completely altered my life and ended with the opportunity for me to be a mother figure to a beautiful baby girl, our Princess Lilly.

And then there are cases where parents make the difficult decision to give their children a safe and effective medicine, despite state law.

I've been involved with a couple of these types of cases, and as a parent of a child who has a chronic condition that I long to treat with what I believe to be safe and effective medicine, in a place where the word Marijuana is still uttered in the Reefer Madness style of fear and abhorrence, I completely understand this dilemma. 

The risk and fear is Child Protective Services and the law, but the benefit is helping our suffering child.

I openly and willingly admit that I use Marijuana, illegally, in the State of Idaho. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm fed up with Idaho laws that make me a criminal for choosing a better quality of life, and I don't care who knows it

I am currently in the process of opening up the legal/medical debate by challenging state laws because of criminal charges stemming from my own use and possession. But the one thing that I haven't been willing to risk is fighting with CPS over giving it to Lilly for her MRSA. (Which ironically was contracted while in foster care during the fight over Mariuana and parenting in Washington State.)

But I definitely understand the frustration of having to choose between the law and your child's health. Fortunately, Lilly's condition isn't as urgently life threatening as other children in Idaho who could benefit from medical marijuana. I can only imagine the anguish that some parents face watching their sick or dying children suffer when they see hope in medical Cannabis. Especially knowing what I know about how well it works and how safe it is.

But some parents who face this decision, make the decision. In a moment of desperation, filled with fear and anxiety as they watch their child suffer imaginable pain and anguish, some parents have made the decision to give their children an illegal drug in a non-medical marijuana state. I'm certain there are those out there, even in the state of Idaho, who have made this decision, and no one knows about it.

And then there are those who get a visit from Child Protective Services, because of someone reporting them or because of a postitive toxicology test reported by a medical provider.

I recently became involved in such a case stemming out of Twin Falls, Idaho.

THE OSBORNES

Ryker, Kelsey & Mady Osborne

Kelsey Osborne, a 23 year old mother of two, is a native to Hazleton, Idaho, and currently resides in Gooding, Idaho - both small country towns on the outskirts of Twin Falls, Idaho.

On October 5th, 2016, she was faced with the decision of helping her 3 year old daughter, Madyson, by using what she believed would work - medical marijuana, or complying with State law and watching her daughter suffer for hours until they could get in to see the doctor.

Madyson has a history of behavioral and medical problems. For the last 18 months, after her daughter began to be violent and aggressive towards other children and people, Kelsey has been seeking help through her local pediatrician, and referrals to behavioral specialists in Idaho's capitol city, Boise -120 miles away.

According to Madyson's medical records, her pediatrician, Dr. Jack F. Trotter of Twin Falls, has jumped through diagnosis after diagnosis to help explain this 3 year old's aggressive and violent behavior.

Starting on July 16th, 2014, when Mady had a harmful reaction to the MMR vaccine and began vomitting and having seizures, sending the Osborne family to the local emergency room, Mady's behavior has grown worse and more out of control. Her mother reports that she won't play with other children for more than 5 minutes before she would become "mean to the other children. Pushing, kicking, biting, hitting, etc."

On March 13, 2015, Mady was caught pushing her baby brother, Ryker, down the stairs, all because she couldn't have candy. The incident resulted in head trauma for 1 year old Ryker, another trip to the ER, and two days in the hospital suffering seizures. Finding child care for Mady became increasingly difficult, with threats from day cares that Mady would be kicked out if the behavior problems were not addressed. 

Kelsey has been told by medical professionals, numerous times, that it is typical toddler behavior, but as it became more uncontrollable, Kelsey continued to seek medical help from her daughter's pediatrician without any real concrete explanation for Mady's aggressive behavior. 

Mady's medical records between Summer of 2014, and Spring of 2016 include such potential diagnosis by Dr. Trotter as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Under Socialized Aggressive Conduct Disorder (CD), and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Not a single one of the medical records includes the same suggestion of diagnosis, each speculating a different disorder.

The final diagnosis in the record is Dysruptive [sic] Behavior Disorder (DBD), dated August 8th, 2016. At this visit, Dr. Trotter decides to try Mady on a low dose of a psychotropic medication called Risperdal. (There isn't any mention in the record of what dose Dr. Trotter started Madyson on at this visit, it only states a "low dose".)

According to Drugs.com, Risperdal is an anti-psychotic, used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). Risperdal is also used in autistic children to treat symptoms of irritability.

The last medical records shown to me is dated August 23rd, 2016, and states that mother (Kelsey) says that there is dramatic improvement, and Mady acts like a normal child at times. Mady was on Risperdal for two weeks at this point. At this visit, the doctor increases Mady's dose to .25mg three times a day, or up to .5mg twice a day. (Kelsey reports that she only gave her daughter .25mg twice a day.)

Mady and her little brother Ryker, were sharing residential time with their father, Kelsey's ex husband. After spending a couple weeks with their father, at the end of September, Mady and Ryker return home to Kelsey on October 4th. 

Kelsey reports that at this time Mady had been taking the medication regularly at her home, but when their father returned them to her care, he told her he had stopped the Risperdal "cold turkey" while Mady was at his house. Kelsey says that when she asked their father why he had stopped it, his reason was because it made her a zombie and he didn't want her on it.

That night, Mady became very emotional. Kelsey states that she assumed it had to do with a lack of an afternoon nap, but when bedtime came around, Mady threw a tantrum and screamed until she fell asleep in her bed, no soothing from her mother effective in calming her.

The morning of Wednesday, October 5th, 2016, Mady woke up terrified. As reported by her mother, Mady stated, as they sat down to breakfast with Ryker, and Kelsey's live-in significant other, Mike, and his 5 kids, that someone was there to kill her. She began screaming "bloody murder", crying "Help! I'm gonna die. They are going to kill me!"

Kelsey grabbed her child and held her, not understanding what was happening to her baby girl. Terrified by her daughter's behavior, while trying to maintain composure for her child, Kelsey just held Madyson as she screamed. Her mother describes Mady as "trembling and shaking and scared" with her arms wrapped tightly around her as she tried to calm her with suggestions of "princesses, parks, and happy times."

Mady told her mom that she wanted to go outside, so Kelsey took her into the garage and sat her down in her chair with a pop tart for breakfast. As Mady took a bite of her poptart, Kelsey reports that Mady started to nod off, as if she was falling back asleep. Keeping an eye on her daughter, Kelsey sat in the garage worried beyond belief.

Suddenly, Mady jumped in terror, looking to the side and looked like she was trying to scream, trying to get out of the chair as quickly as possible. Kelsey says that it seemed liked Mady was trying to get out of her chair but could not move, almost as if paralyzed. She couldn't get her scream out either.

Kelsey describes watching her daughter's "itty bitty body using every bit of strength to get up" and get to her mother. Kelsey rushed over to comfort her daughter and Mady grabbed her, wrapping her arms around Kelsey so tight she could barely breath, as she was trying to escape the terrors within in her mind. Kelsey describes that she told Mady that she loved her and promised she would not let anyone hurt her.

This momentarily calmed Mady, but then she suddenly jumped, screaming again, and grabbing her mother tighter than before. Rambling, Mady told Kelsey that she loved her, loved all the kids, and Mike, and her daddy and his fiance, apologizing to her mother that "she was really going to die" and begging her to help.

Then Mady started seizing and vomiting profusely.

Kelsey immediately called Dr. Trotter and says that he stated that he felt it was a seizure but didn't feel it to be life threatening. He asked her to bring Mady into the office but there was not an appointment until 1pm.

It was 10:30 in the morning and the seizures and hallucinations continued. Kelsey believed with all of her heart and mind that there was only one thing that was going to help. Taking her to the hospital would result in more medications and possibly toxic pharmaceuticals, and that with everything she knew about Marijuana, and it's treatment for seizures and psychotic disorders, there was only one thing that could truly, safely, help her daughter.

So, despite it being frowned upon and illegal in Idaho, Kelsey chose to give her daughter Marijuana, knowing with every fiber of her being that it would help her baby girl. After making the heart wrenching and terrifying decision to violate the law despite the risks, Kelsey gave Mady marijuana infused butter in a smoothie. Thirty more minutes of anguish passed, but finally Mady calmed down.

After hours of seizures, hysteria, hallucinations, and what can only be called a psychotic episode, Mady was finally back to her "normal, loving, kind, hallucination and seizure free, self."

The one o'clock appointment with the doctor rolled around and the doctor's office performed an EEG test, which, as reported by Kelsey, was found to be "essentially normal." Dr. Trotter advised that Mady should be sent to Boise for an "emergency MRI of the brain" but before he sent her there he needed to ensure that she had not gotten into something toxic.  He performed a toxicology screen through a urine sample, which resulted in a positive for THC from the smoothie.

By law, as a mandated reporter, Dr. Trotter was required to call Child Protective Services because of the positive result.

Kelsey called her ex-husband and informed him of the situation. They agreed that they would meet with CPS together if they became involved.

At approximately 8:30pm, Kelsey received a phone call from Karla Enriquez, a Twin Falls CPS Investigator through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Karla told Kelsey they received a referral of neglect from the doctor regarding a positive test for THC, and to meet her at the Twin Falls Kmart to do a welfare check on Madyson and discuss the situation.

Kelsey called her ex-husband, and they headed to Kmart to meet with the investigator.

At Kmart, Karla and a Twin Falls police officer, Anthony Rhoades (#12349), discussed with Kelsey and her ex-husand what had happened that morning. Kelsey says she told Karla the truth and that she was only wanting what was best for her child.

Karla suggested that Kelsey sign a safety plan that she had written out according to her department's policies. Because of her fear, confusion and ignorance regarding her legal rights, Kelsey consented to the safety plan. (NEVER SIGN A SAFETY PLAN!)

The safety plan included both of her children residing with their father and only supervised visits with their mother, the children were required to receive hair follicle testing within the next 48 hours, and Kelsey was required to contact a chemical dependency treatment center and complete an evaluation as well as submit to drug testing until CPS closed the case.




It wasn't until later that Kelsey realized Ms. Enriquez had written the safety plan in a way that Kelsey was admitting that Mady had been exposed to THC, and required medical attention because of it. Not that she used the Cannabis as a medical treatment.

At this time, Officer Rhoades also cited Kelsey with a misdemeanor Injury to a Child. Kelsey explains that the officer was originally going to cite her with a felony but was told by his supervisor to only give her a misdemeanor. 




(She has since plead NOT GUILTY to this charge and has hearings pending.)

After learning about the discrepancies in the safety plan, and learning her legal rights,  as well as also realizing that Ms. Enriquez has added a written admission to giving Mady THC to the plan AFTER Kelsey and her ex-husband had already signed it, Kelsey decided to rescind her signature to the safety plan and insist that Child Protective Services take her to court and prove the harm they are saying she caused to her child before cooperating.

She has continued to abide by the safety plan in regards to where her children are living, which is currently with her ex husband. Her fear of her babies being placed with strangers in foster care is the only motivation behind any kind of cooperation.

Kelsey tells me she believes in the medical validity and safety of Marijuana, and that in her desperation, she believes she made the right choice. She says she doesn't feel she made a mistake by giving her daughter what she knew and believed with all of her heart to be safe and beneficial and the ONLY thing that could help her daughter with the seizures and hallucinations she was having at that moment. She believes this because it worked. It helped her.

I do not feel she made a mistake either.

She says it is Governor Otter and the State of Idaho that have made a mistake by not allowing parents like her to make the decision that is in the best interest of their own child's health and safety. They have made the mistake by continuing Idaho's prohibition on medical use of marijuana, including for severely ill children experiencing symptoms of epilepsy or other life threatening or debilitating illnesses.

And I completely agree.

When you run a google search of the withdrawal symptoms of Risperdal, a legal and FDA approved drug for the treatment of irritability in children apparently as young as three years old, this is what you find:





Logically looking at this situation, I speculate that Mady may have been suffering from hallucinations and seizures caused by withdrawal from Risperdal, a drug given to her with no concrete medical diagnsosis and that may have never been appropriate for her at 3 years old. There is also speculation now that Mady may suffer from mild autism.

This could help to explain the aggressive behavior which is a trademark of autism in some cases. And of course, my mind turns to studies I've read regarding the use of Marijuana in the treatment of aggression caused by Autism, and of the Unconventional Foundation for Autism and Meiko Perez who uses Cannabis to treat her son Joey's aggression symptoms in California.

But with CPS intervention, because of Kelsey's decision to treat her daughter the only way she absolutely knew would work and be helpful for her child, I believe it is going to be difficult to actually figure out what is going on with Mady any time soon. CPS is more concerned with the marijuana and focused on what they are inappropriately calling an Injury to Child, than what happened to Mady that day.

On October 19th, 2016, Kelsey finally went to court. I was present during the interview with her new public defender and the court process in setting this case up for an Adjudicatory hearing on November 9th. This is where the court will determine whether or not Madyson and Ryker Osborne are within jurisdiction of the Idaho Child Protection Act

Jerome County Magistrate Judge, Thomas H. Borresen, will have to decide if the State of Idaho has presented a preponderance of evidence to prove whether or not Kelsey abused or neglected her daughter, Mady, because of giving her Marijuana.

In the 2 weeks of this case being active, I have heard recordings from a CPS supervisor, and personally witnessed the public defender assigned to the case, insist that any judge in Idaho will agree that Marijuana is dangerous to children because it's illegal. Not because it is actually dangerous, or that there is science or evidence to support their claim of its potential to injure to a child, or that Marijuana was even the wrong medication for this child and that it did not help...

But because it is ILLEGAL.

So, let's talk about ILLEGAL vs. DANGEROUS.

Illegal is defined as:


Dangerous is defined as:
Just because something is illegal and forbidden by law, does not mean that it is dangerous. These terms do not mean the same thing.

Once you do the research, and learn everything about the toxicity of marijuana, and of the perceived dangers of Marijuana caused by distorted information being passed down through numerous generations of prohibition in this country, and if you look at the actual law as defined by Idaho Statute regarding Injury to a child:



I believe that anyone would agree it is ILLOGICAL to even consider Marijuana exposure falling within the parameters of "Injury to a Child."

The truth is out there, and it is only a matter of time before it is accepted by the collective consciousness. Someday, the safety and benefits of Marijuana will be accepted as a societal truth.

But Idaho is stuck in 80 years of prohibition...

Idaho is stuck in the stigma of marijuana being a dangerous drug.

And stuck in the belief it is especially a danger to our children.

Idaho is stuck on the WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY.

The rights of parents in the control and care of their children, without government interference, is what is on the line in this case.

Which is what makes this case so important in the fight for truth and justice when it comes to Marijuana, parenting, the current Idaho laws, CPS corruption, and even the use of psychotropic drugs on toddlers when there is a safer alternative. 

It's about making that alternative available to your children if they are suffering without having to fight for the right to make medical decisions about YOUR family without governmental interference.

Kelsey has made the decision to fight the "Injury to Child" charge and the allegations by the department that she abused/neglected her children. She has informed me that she intends to fight to the end, and insist upon the rules of evidence and due process in her case. And based on everything I know about this case, and my 10+ year education about Cannabis, and about Idaho's current controversial fight for medical justice, I stand by her decision 100%.

And I hope you will too.

Because Idaho needs you to pay attention. We need you, no matter who you are, or where you live, to #LooktoIdaho and #ChallengeGovButchOtter. Challenge his decision to deny a defense for medical marijuana use in epileptic children (which would be available as a defense for Kelsey now had it not been vetoed last year). Challenge Idaho's determination to stay wrapped up in an insane and illogical prohibition of the most beneficial medicine on this earth. 

For Kelsey, Mady, Ryker and the Osborne family. For all the sick and dying children in Idaho. For my daughter, for my sons, and for all the children who are depending on us to give them a better future. For all the parents who, in Kelsey's terrified and desperate shoes - concerned about the well-being and safety of their child rather than state laws - would make the same decision she did, without thinking twice.


Please support Kelsey's fight.


And help us finally bind these monsters called Child Protective Services and Marijuana Prohibition in Idaho.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Stay up to date with Kelsey's journey to bring her kids back and support her fight for Medical Justice in Idaho by liking and following Operation Gleipnir on Facebook.

Sign the petition demanding return of the Osborne kids, and challenge Gov. Butch Otter's decision to not protect Idaho families by vetoing the 2015 CBD bill.

Sign the petition demanding The Idaho Office of Drug Policy change their stance on Medical Marijuana in Idaho.

Contact Idaho legislators and demand they investigate this case and work to change Marijuana laws in Idaho.

Sign the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association's current petition to legalize medical marijuana in Idaho. It was recently released for circulation and just needs your signature to make it on the 2018 ballot.


And please help EXPOSE CPS CORRUPTION in this country.