The drive to collect signatures to place a new medical marijuana initiative on the November 2020 ballot officially began Friday with the certification of the initiative by the Idaho Secretary of State, Lawerence Denney.

Chief Petitioner John Belville received notice of the certification on Friday. Belville, 77, is a lifelong Idaho resident suffering from peripheral neuropathy, an excruciating pain syndrome. Doctors placed Belville on a regimen of dangerous and addictive opiate narcotics, including OxyContin and morphine, to manage his condition. Now, due to those pharmaceuticals, 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, spokesman 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 whole plant cannabis and other medical cannabis products through a system of secure dispensaries tightly regulated by the state. Patients with chronic illness or severe disability must meet an exacting qualification process mandated by law. Patients with demonstrated physical or financial hardship may qualify to produce a small cannabis garden of their own. Patients will be protected from discrimination for legal medical cannabis use.

“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.”

“I was born in Idaho,” explained John Belville, “I went to school in Idaho, I married and raised kids in Idaho, I worked and hunt in Idaho. I want to be able to live out my last years here in Idaho. Without medical marijuana, there will be fewer of those years and they’ll be filled with pain. Why shouldn’t I be able to use the same medical marijuana that people are using legally across almost every Idaho border?”

Organizers are now canvassing all areas of the state, collecting the necessary 55,057 valid signatures of registered Idaho voters by April 30, 2020, to place medical marijuana on the ballot. By law, the petition must collect signatures equal to 6% of the votes in the last gubernatorial election from 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts, ensuring that the petition garners statewide support.

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