Marijuana: Smart Colorado takes anti-pot campaign to Idaho as activists' kids are seized

We've been hearing a lot about Smart Colorado's call for higher cannabis taxes in Colorado, as well as its connection to a possible attempt to repeal Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of marijuana. But the group is also spreading its anti-pot message beyond state lines, to places like Idaho, where a TV station juxtaposes these remarks with the tale of marijuana activists whose children were seized.

The video accompanying "Idaho's pot push meets Colorado criticism," from KTVB-TV, features an interview with former Rhode Island representative Patrick Kennedy, among the principals of Project SAM, a national organization that launched in Denver this past January.

But rather than being linked with Project SAM, Kennedy is identified throughout the piece as speaking for Smart Colorado, an affiliate of Project SAM that also advocates taking a public-health approach to marijuana. In Kennedy's remarks to KTVB, that translates to his assertion that legalization has hurt Colorado and the region thanks to "increased access to kids, impact on their brain development and education levels, and not the revenue windfall that was promised."

Kennedy adds that there's been "a doubling of traffic fatalities since the dispensaries opened" -- a dubious claim, to put it mildly.

These remarks are framed by information about Sarah Caldwell, from an organization called Compassionate Idaho, which advocates for Idaho to pass medical marijuana legalization. But she believes she's paid the price for standing up for this cause. Her three children were temporarily taken away by authorities as part of an investigation into children reportedly swallowing marijuana -- an alleged incident that is related to the seizure of other cannabis activists' kids.

As KTVB notes, Lindsey and Josh Rinehart also support medical marijuana legalization via Compassionate Idaho, with Lindsey using pot to treat her multiple sclerosis. Police got involved after officers received a report from a school involving an eleven-year-old who is said to have eaten some marijuana and felt ill afterward.

The eleven-year-old wasn't one of the Rineharts' kids, but cops say they subsequently traced the weed to the family's home, where they "reportedly found illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia in areas commonly used by children between five and eleven years old," the station maintains. Hence, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare took custody of the kids.

Continue for more about the Idaho marijuana activists. The Rineharts and Caldwell believe they were targeted for their activism, but the police insist otherwise. The department has released a long account of what took place. Read it below following two videos -- the first featuring Caldwell and Kennedy, the second focusing on the Rinehart story.

Boise Police account

On April 23, 2013, shortly after 4:00 p.m. Boise Police were contacted by an official with a local school about a child who had apparently eaten a substance that was making the child ill. The child, age 11, had sought medical treatment from the school nurse. The substance was identified as being marijuana. The school called Boise Police.

Based on the fact that there was one small child that had become ill and needed medical assistance from the school nurse, officers immediately began to investigate. Officers learned from talking to witnesses the marijuana reportedly came from a home on the 2900 block of W. Malad St. (The child who became ill at school does not live at this residence but is acquainted with the residents, including children there.)

Concerned for the safety of children at the residence, officers went to the Malad St. home that afternoon. They found four children ages 5-11 being cared for by a babysitter. Officers were told the parents were not at home, were at a retreat and were not accessible by telephone. The babysitter allowed officers inside the home after officers explained to her what had happened at school and that there was a concern for the children, concern specifically for the child who may have brought marijuana to the school and may have access to substances that could potentially harm that child or others.

Inside the house, officers found drug paraphernalia, items commonly used to smoke marijuana, and a quantity of a substance that appeared to be marijuana in locations inside the house accessible to the children.

The patrol officers on scene then contacted narcotics investigators who secured a search warrant signed by a judge and continued their investigation. Evidence found at the house continues to be the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation that has not yet resulted in criminal charges.

At the same time, patrol officers contacted detectives with the BPD Special Victims Unit. Based on the fact that illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia were located in an area that appeared to be commonly used by the children in the residence and the fact that one child had already become ill from ingesting what he assumed was marijuana, and the inability to contact the children's parents, detectives made the decision to contact Idaho Health and Welfare officials and place the children in imminent danger, meaning they were placed in the protective custody of the state until it can be determined they are in a safe environment.

This case remains under investigation.

Typically, information on cases that remain under investigation is not released by the Boise Police Department. However, the suspects in this case have chosen to identify themselves and the department believes it is in the public interest to clarify that evidence in a criminal investigation led officers to the Malad St home.

More information will be released on this investigation as it becomes available.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Project SAM touts public-health approach to pot in fighting legalization."

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