House Committee Hears Emotional Testimony on Medical Marijuana



Speaking with the aid of a breathing tube, Shelly Vulgamore's voice quivered as she detailed a long and grisly list of ailments to the Idaho House Environment, Engineering and Technology Committee Wednesday in Boise. Up to 18 seizures a day. Her intestines re-routed. Heart attacks.

"I have a lump in my breast they're not even concerned about," said Vulgamore. "I can only eat a half a cup of food because nothing works right inside me."

Her ailments are the result of being hit by a car traveling at more than 50 mph. And the reason she was sharing them with the Legislature was to explain why Idaho needs to legalize medical marijuana, something she currently has to travel to Oregon to get and cannot legally possess in Idaho.

"The cannabis is the only thing that's gotten me to where I am. I'm not active, but at least I can get through the day," said Vulgamore.

Making medical marijuana legal would allow Vulgamore to easily purchase it in a variety of foods, such as butter, honey and baked goods, instead of just the smokeable variety sold illegally.

"You shouldn't have to go to a drug dealer to get medicine," she said. "It's degrading."

Cannabis replaced the 600 mg. of opium suppositories Vulgamore previously used for pain for what she called "stage-four end-of-life issues."

"I'm an Idahoan," said William James Esbensen of the 43rd Parallel Compassion Group. "I still own businesses in this state. I own houses in this state. But I had to move to Oregon so I wouldn't go to jail."

Their testimony was on House Bill 19, an effort to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries submitted by Rep. Tom Trail, a Moscow Republican. It's an issue Trail feels is especially important since Idaho is bordered by states that have legal medical marijuana.

"Over 300 families have relocated to Oregon to get legal relief to their pain," said Trail. "When they come back to Idaho, they live in the shadows of fear."

Trail quoted Texas representative and libertarian hero Ron Paul as saying that medical marijuana is really an issue of states' rights. Trail also said that of the 14 states that have legal medical marijuana, those that addressed the issue through the Legislature rather than with citizen referendums have had better outcomes. He also said FOX News commentator Glenn Beck is a supporter.

Vulgamore best summarized the feelings of all the speakers.

"We should not be afraid of being arrested because we use medical cannabis," she said.

The committee then adjourned until Monday, when they will hear more testimony on the issue.

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