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April 30, 2013 permalink
Lindsey and Josh Rinehart and Sarah Caldwell are prominent advocates for medical marijuana in Idaho. Lindsay suffers from multiple sclerosis and finds marijuana helpful for her symptoms.
Last week the state took action against them. No criminal charges were filed, but when the three returned from a trip their children were gone, only the baby-sitter remained.
Medical marijuana activists' children taken from home, charges possible
BOISE -- Three publicly known medical marijuana advocates say police took their sons away from them this week while investigating allegations involving marijuana. Their sons were considered by law enforcement to be in imminent danger.
The medical marijuana advocacy group called "Compassionate Idaho" has appeared in several recent news stories as members have circulated petitions looking for a vote to legalize medical marijuana. Now, its leaders are being investigated, and they say their kids were put into foster care.
"They took my children. Due to cannabis being present in the house," Lindsey Rinehart, Compassionate Idaho's Executive Director, said.
Lindsey and Josh Rinehart and Sarah Caldwell have been very public in their efforts to legalize medical marijuana. On Tuesday, they say when they got back to the Rinehart's after a trip -- their baby-sitter was there, but their four sons were all gone.
"They say their goal is to return our children to our home once it is deemed safe. They say our children will be in foster care for 30 days," Lindsey Rinehart said.
According to the search warrant Rinehart showed KTVB, her home was being investigated for possible charges of marijuana trafficking, possession and injury to a child. She vehemently denies trafficking or putting kids in danger.
"We were not dealing. We were not buying. We were not selling. We were not growing," Rinehart said.
Caldwell's two sons are back with her now, but the Rineharts say their two boys are still in foster care. The activists say everything started at their kids' elementary school earlier this week.
"Somebody said that somebody brought cannabis to school, that somebody ate the cannabis, that somebody reported it. That it was tossed around on the playground," Sarah Caldwell said.
Lindsey Rinehart continued their story: "So they decided basically, who would have cannabis in their home. Now if you're the chief petitioner to legalize medical marijuana, where would you go with that?"
The Rineharts say police then searched their home, seized marijuana, and took their children, declared in imminent danger.
"They went through my house. They removed all of my cannabis that I use for medicine," Lindsey Rinehart said. Rinehart suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.
The Rineharts say their kids have been well-educated about marijuana, that it is medicine not for them to touch. Now, Lindsey Rinehart says she's personally given up medical marijuana. She says her MS symptoms have already started to return.
"Even if I could access cannabis, which I can't, and won't because I'm cooperating with CPS, I want my children back. I'm going to have to go back on a whole bunch of really toxic medication," Lindsey Rinehart said.
Though she says she will not be keeping marijuana around because her priority is doing anything to get her children back. She does plan, alongside the others, to keep fighting for legalization.
"We are going to work on getting our children back. And we are going to work on education. And we are going to work on getting medical marijuana laws in Idaho so this doesn't happen to any more people," Lindsey Rinehart said.
No charges have been filed in this case. Because of that, Boise Police said it could not offer much information; however, a spokeswoman did confirm officers are currently working on the case with prosecutors, who will determine if any charges will be filed.
KTVB contacted Health and Welfare on this story. While a spokesman could not comment on a specific case, he did offer insight about guidelines for recommending a child be removed from a home.
The spokesman said if illegal drugs are found in a home, they look at whether they're accessible to the kids. They also look at if drug activity impacts ability to parent. Police make decisions on if kids need to be taken, and he said the courts work with agency recommendations to determine the return of children.
The Rineharts and Caldwell say other medical marijuana advocates have started to reach out to them and have so far donated more than $5,000 to help pay for legal expenses. Click here for more information.
Addendum: The children returned home in seventeen days, but the mother is restricted from use of her medicine on pain of child removal.
Marijuana Medical Marijuana Advocate Gets Kids Back But Living 'In Constant Panic Attack'
Lindsey Rinehart, the medical marijuana advocate who had her children taken into custody by the State of Idaho April 24, says her children have been returned to her family, but she's still scared over facing criminal charges.
"The CPS case was dismissed," Rinehart wrote on her Facebook page. "They were out of our care for 17 days. We never had to step foot into a court room. We worked very well with our social worker and our lawyer is amazing."
Rinheart said he was required to write a so-called "safety plan" where she would stop using cannabis. Boise Weekly readers may remember Rinehart from her testimony at the Idaho State Capitol regarding medical marijuana. As director of Compassionate Idaho, Rinehart has helped spearhead a petition drive to legalize marijuana in Idaho. Rinehart has used marijuana to treat her own illness, multiple sclerosis, which she said can cause violent muscle spasms.
The Boise Police Department said they had been contacted by a a local school official who said that an 11-year-old child had become ill, requiring medical treatment from a school nurse. Police said the child had eaten a substance which was identified as marijuana. Police said the marijuana had come from a home on the 2900 block of W. Malad Street. The child who became ill did not live at the residence but is acquainted with the Rinheart's children.
Police said they went to the residence and found children, being cared for a babysitter while the parents were away. Police said they discovered drug paraphernalia and "a quantity of a substance that appeared to be marijuana in locations inside the house accessible to the children." Patrol officers contacted narcotics investigators who secured a search warrant signed by a judge. Police added that their investigation has not yet resulted in criminal charges.
Detectives made the decision to contact Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials who deemed that the children were in "imminent danger," thereby putting the children into protective custody.
"I'm still living in a constant panic attack because of it," wrote Rinehart. "Most 'suspects' don't go in front of cameras and explain what happened and why. I really am not a criminal and my record reflects that as well. I really am a patient, and the records reflect that too. The medicine that was removed isn't what they are used to removing because it wasn't recreational.. So, I'm just in fear."
Rinheart wrote that she "will always pick my family over my medicine. That being said, my quality of life is quickly declining."
Source: Boise Weekly