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Medical marijuana petition cleared for circulation

Supporters of an initiative to put medical marijuana on the Idaho ballot say they have won certification to pursue the effort.

Chief petitioner John Belville said he received notice from the Secretary of State’s office Friday that the Idaho Cannabis Coalition could proceed with efforts to gather petition signatures. He said organizers will begin to canvass all areas of the state beginning this weekend.

The initiative needs 55,057 valid signatures from registered voters by April 30, 2020 to put medical marijuana on the ballot. Idaho law requires enough signatures to be equal to 6% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. The signatures must also come from 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.

“I was born in Idaho,” explained the 77-year-old 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?”

Belville suffers from peripheral neuropathy, which he describes as an excruciating pain syndrome. He says his organs are beginning to fail because of the dangerous narcotics, including Oxycontin and morphine, he is forced to use to manage his condition.

“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.”

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