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.