Medical Marijuana Activism & Parenting: Risky Business

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PHOTO Courtesy of Idaho Three on Facebook: Medical Marijuana Activist Mother and Patient Lindsey Rinehart of Compassionate Idaho one week after her children were kidnapped by the state

Being a mom is hard enough. Being an activist mom is even more difficult. Combine parenting with drug policy reform activism while being a cannabis-medicating patient and you’ve got one long, difficult road ahead of you with the likely possibility of child protective services making a visit to your home to take your children at any given time.

As activist parents, we have a lot of difficult scenarios to consider.  In drug policy reform specific to cannabis, some advocate-patients choose to give up their oftentimes illegal and healthier alternative cannabis medicine because if child protective services comes with the police to search the home due to an elevated and visual political presence, they will not find it in the home. The problem is if you are in fact a patient who requires medication to treat say, multiple sclerosis or neuropathic pain, you do not have alternatives that are as healthy or as kind to the body and mind as cannabis. For example, Interferon (marketed as Avonex), taken by many MS sufferers and administered via painful intramuscular injections once a week, can cause lethargy, nausea and some patients have reported being “practically useless for two days, sleeping about 12-15 hours at a stretch”. If one has children, that is not an ideal but unfortunately legal option. Combined with opiate pain medications like morphine and you’re entering a whole other world of addictions, also known as absentee-yet-present-but-a-shell-of-a-human-existence scenarios that toxify the liver and other organs.

It’s hypocritical to feed pills to humans that do these terrible things, get them hooked and be okay with that as a society. Just because something is legal does not make it better. It’s bad enough to think this is okay, but to take kids from their parents because they opt to use cannabis is unconscionable.

Parent-patient-advocates who still choose to medicate with cannabis because of its efficacy in treating symptoms have sometimes taught their kids to be secretive, if they even tell them at all, because one mention at school or at a friend’s home could break apart an entire family. Our system inherently teaches parents not to be honest with kids because it could destroy or severely handicap a family that is most likely already struggling in other ways — primarily because of the disability but also from severely compromised income. It  is  most malicious and barbaric way to have citizens exist in fear but that’s what the system keeping this medicine from people encourages. People have a right to treat their illnesses and be honest with their children without fear of being persecuted for it.

The fact is that cannabis is still illegal in most states and quite restrictive in many other states that have laws on the books. It’s quite sad that medicating naturally comes with so many legal consequences, most of all the lost custody of children and potential loss of freedom of their parents, sometimes even sending the patient to prison where health care isn’t exactly up to snuff. Who wins? Certainly the families don’t benefit from being separated. Parents who are already ill enough should not have to agonize about where their children are, if they’re being loved and have adequate care. With little or no income, it’s almost impossible to fight because affording competent and aggressive legal representation is very near impossible. It certainly doesn’t help the already overcrowded and under-supervised juvenile placement facilities or adult prisons that are bursting at the seams. Kids who are removed from their homes unjustly for their parents use of medical marijuana squanders already thin government resources for children who actually do need to be removed from real threatening situations like actual abuse.

Lindsey Rinehart (who is living with multiple sclerosis), and her husband, Josh, were on a trip last week in the mountains in Idaho with another activist friend of theirs, Sarah Caldwell when they started getting panicked texts that the children had been removed and the home searched. Since last Tuesday, Sarah got her children back but the Rineharts are still fighting for their sons who are ages 5 and 11. Details about what transpired can be found through statements Lindsey most recently made on the Compassionate Idaho website, where she is the executive director and chief petitioner of Idaho’s medical marijuana initiative. She is also a core member of the Idaho H.O.P.E. Fest Committee. Her husband, Josh, is the Director of Idaho NORML, and core member of Idaho H.O.P.E. Fest and Compassionate Idaho.

Despite the recent horrific legal kidnapping of their children, the Rineharts remain adamant that they will not stop advocating for the rights of patients to medicate with cannabis.

“I’ve quit (medicating with) cannabis but not given up my activism. I don’t want to see another family go through this. It’s torture. Seriously, torture. It’s illegal for me to have a better quality of life…by choosing the medication that’s best for me and our family. I promised my family I would never go on morphine again. And I won’t. I quit using cannabis to cooperate with CPS (Child Protective Services), so you can all watch my health decline as I go without medicine, but at least I’ll have my kids.”

Just so we’re clear here, the people in charge of “keeping children safe, providing support to strengthen families to prevent abuse and neglect” want a suffering multiple sclerosis patient to be in incredible pain and have quicker progression of her disease in order to get her kids back as a result of the ass backwards laws of cannabis medicine illegality. Great family values there, CPS.

Lindsey and Josh, as well as their friend Sarah have all been very visible in this fight for patients to be able to medicate with cannabis, and though authorities claim that they were led there because a child (who is not from the Rinehart family) ate marijuana and got sick at school. This was supposedly determined by a part time nurse at the school and it’s not clear how that led them to Lindsey and Josh’s home. Rinehart says her medications are never within reach of the children and they are taught not to touch or ingest any medication that is not for them.

There are those who say that people like the Rineharts ought to move to a more compassionate state to be able to obtain their medicine legally but Lindsey’s not having any of that talk.

“We are fighting for medical marijuana laws so that things like this wouldn’t happen. They are trying to make an example of me. We need to fight back so this stops happening. No, I will not leave my state. I don’t want to move to get compassion. Idaho is compassionate. Well, most of it at least with exception of some, clearly.”

Jenn Meeropol, Associate Director of the The Rosenberg Fund for Children (started by Robert Meeropol, who was orphaned at age six when his parents Ethel & Julius Rosenberg were executed at the height of the McCarthy Era), says that “removal of the children of activists really has nothing to do with the kids but can be an effective deterrent sometimes for authorities to intimidate their parents”.

Speaking with her husband Josh today, I ask if he’s concerned that once they get their two boys back if the state will come again under different pretenses and remove the children.

“I hope not. We’ve been violated enough.”



The Rineharts need your help. To donate to their legal defense fund, please go to:

Compassion Fund

for the Rineharts

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