TWIN FALLS • The city of Twin Falls should not oppose legalizing marijuana use, a representative with Compassionate Idaho said during Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Right now, people are having to choose between breaking the law or to live in pain,” said Lindsey Rinehart, executive director of Compassionate Idaho, a group that works to raise awareness about legalizing medical marijuana in Idaho.
Rinehart argued in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, saying it was a safer and cheaper option to treat patients in pain.
The council is considering signing a resolution to oppose legalized marijuana. The resolution would urge the federal government to enforce all existing drugs laws.
The Idaho Senate attempted to pass a similar resolution the legislative session, but the motion on a 13-21 vote.
Elisha Figueroa, administrator for the Idaho Office on Drug Policy, responded to the presentation saying that legalized medical marijuana was compassion at too high of a cost.
She argued that medicinal marijuana dispensaries in other states are not marketed to sick patients but to young, white males with a history of drug use.
“Medicinal marijuana is not being marketed to your sick grandma in these states,” she said.
The council did not make a decision during Monday’s meeting. Mayor Greg Lanting reminded the public that the council was not asking to ban the use of marijuana in Twin Falls but urging the federal government to do its job.
Other council members also voiced their opinion following the presentation.
“I’ve spent some time as an officer and working with kids. ... I truly believe marijuana is a gateway drug,” Councilman Don Hall said.
Councilwoman Suzanne Hawkins said she opposed any legalization of marijuana.
“Sometimes compassion is saying no,” she said.
Councilman Shawn Barigar said Idaho will be forced to address the issue sooner than later.
“It is going to be before us. Not before this City Council, but this is something Idaho is going to have to address,” he said. “There needs to be more opportunities for information and discussion.”
The council also listened to a presentation from the police department’s juvenile crime unit regarding school safety.
Capt. Matt Hicks explained that the unit has five school resource officers assigned to patrol schools in the Twin Falls School District. However, all police officers are provided training to make sure they can respond to a crisis.
The school resource officer program patrols schools in the Twin Falls School District, but that only includes 13 out of the 22 schools in Twin Falls. It doesn’t include private or charter schools or the College of Southern Idaho, Hicks said.
“We need to focus on early detection,” Hicks said. “It’s our first line of defense.”