Should Idaho legalize marijuana?
BOISE -- As the ongoing controversy surrounding marijuana legalization continues in the West, a Boise woman is pushing for marijuana legalization in Idaho.
Her battle has been mostly uphill.
Local pot advocate Sarah Caldwell says more time will show the benefits of marijuana in states where the psychoactive plant is now legal or decriminalized.
Caldwell works with Compassionate Idaho, a group pushing to make medical marijuana legal in the Gem State. The Boise mom supports medical marijuana because she's used pot in the past to treat illness, and says it's effects are far from harmful.
"I didn't have any way to stop the pain, and it helped me; it helped me be a better mother," Caldwell told KTVB.
She's also a mother who had her children seized by state authorities for three days last week in connection with a controversial seizure of two children belonging to another Idaho marijuana activist.
CONTROVERSY IN COLORADO
While Caldwell's group fights to gain traction for their cause in Idaho, former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy is speaking out about the negative effects of recreational marijuana in Colorado.
Kennedy's efforts are part of a campaign called Smart Colorado.
"This isn't the rosy picture that the pro marijuana people would like to paint; this is a very ugly picture." Kennedy said.
That's because Colorado passed a law legalizing marijuana for recreational use just six months ago.
Kennedy says the impact of legalization has been negative to the state and nearby region, citing "increased access to kids, impact on their brain development and education levels, and not the revenue windfall that was promised."
Furthermore, Kenneday said marijuana legalization in Colorado may be contributing to deadly traffic accidents too.
"We've already seen a doubling of traffic fatalities since the dispensaries opened," Kennedy said. "There is so much that needs to be answered before people rush in to legalization. They need to know what the consequences are."
Smart Colorado is now pushing for stricter regulations when it comes to the sale of marijuana, including the limiting of THC levels, product monitoring, standardization, and compliance.
"These are all very difficult regulations to out into effect," Kennedy said.
Yet others, including Caldwell say it's too early to judge the effects of the law.
MOM: 'I WAS A TARGET'
Caldwell says she was targeted by authorities last week because of her campaign.
As for Caldwell's children, they have been returned to her. Police are still investigating the case, and say it stems from a child swallowing marijuana at school.
"We want to stand up for those people and give them the right to choose a safer medicine, and in doing research we find that cannabis is a safer choice," says Caldwell.
Compassionate Idaho says making medical marijuana legal will bring needed help to some patients.
"It is not harmful to anybody and it is not toxic," says Caldwell.
Compassionate Idaho launched a citizens petition several months ago.
The group is hoping to get 55,000 signatures so the legalization issue can go to voters on the November 2014 ballot.