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STEVE ELLIOTT

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A new nonprofit organization, The Undergreen Railroad, has formed to help marijuana refugees relocate from states with unfriendly cannabis laws to more compassionate states.

When Lindsey and Josh Rinehart had to leave Idaho as medical marijuana refugees — their children had been taken by Boise Police and Child Protective Services due to Lindsey’s choice to use medical marijuana rather than harsh pharmaceuticals — they initially had a tough time settling in, in Oregon, which allows medical marijuana.

“When we were leaving Idaho a lot of people came together to help us through GoFundMe and other fundraisers,” Lindsey told Toke Signals on Tuesday. “When we got to Oregon, we were supposed to have help, but when we got here the person that we trusted proved untrustworthy. Had we had canna-family on the ground when we got here, settling in would have been so much easier and better.”

Lindsey Rinehart, The Undergreen Railroad: "We want to help others have an easier time doing this than we did"
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Lindsey Rinehart, The Undergreen Railroad:
“We want to help others have an easier time doing this than we did”

“Now that we’ve gone through all of that, and came out the other side, we want to help others have an easier time doing this than we did,” Lindsey said. “It’s hard enough to leave your friends, family, and state, let alone having an illness that is bad enough to move away. Moving doesn’t need to be even harder on someone.”

That’s why The Undergreen Railroad wants to move both medical marijuana patients and recreational cannabis users from non-legal states to states where they won’t be in danger of arrest.

The Railroad’s website is currently set up to be self-help tool for those who are moving to more marijuana-friendly states, according to Rinehart.

“There are several tools for all aspects of moving a cannabis patient, or anyone really, plus much more,” she said. “In the future we plan on being a 501(c)3 and we are registered as an Oregon nonprofit. When that happens, we will gather sponsorships to help approved people move to their new homes.”

According to Lindsey, The Undergreen Railroad needs help fundraising for the 501(c)3 registration.

“We are going to be asking everyone for Unity Pledges, where we all come together to move these people to their new homes, set aside differences and work together — activists, dispensaries, growers, press, doctors, community and anyone else who has the right right heart for this work,” Lindsey said. “We want to encourage friendly competition on ‘who can help someone more’ and make compassion a fashionable thing to possess within oneself in this community.

“We are capable of self-regulation in this community,” Lindsey pointed out. “It’s time to practice it. Dishonest people who aren’t in it for the right reasons will become glaringly obvious.”

Bettie Retro Selected as First Recipient of The Undergreen Railroad’s Help

The Undergreen Railroad already has begun a drive for the first recipient of its assistance — activist Bettie Retro.

Bettie Retro, first recipient of help from The Undergreen Railroad
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Bettie Retro, first recipient of help from The Undergreen Railroad:
“Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough”

Bettie, an activist formerly from Oregon, had moved back to her previous home on the East Coast. She has a rare polydactyly disorder that caused her to have fingers removed as an infant, resulting in severe nerve pain as an adult.

“The past year has been an intense transitional period for me as a single mother,” Retro told Toke Signals. “I have become accustomed to doing things on my own but it doesn’t make it any easier.

“When I finally confessed what my daily routine and obstacles look like to Lindsey, she immediately started brainstorming ideas and targeting my areas of greatest need,” Bettie told us. “I was touched that she so obviously cared about helping my son and I reach a safer place of hope.”

“She formerly helped lead an international organization into success from Portland, and she is very active in the community,” Lindsey told Toke Signals. Retro helped to organize local Portland events, as well as nationally, while she lived in Oregon.

“She has strong support where she would like to move, likely a job lined up, help with her young child, and accessibility to medication if she can get back to Oregon,” Lindsey told us. “In Virginia, she is in constant pain, stress, without medication, and no real social support.

“Getting back to Portland is a good move for her health,” Lindsey said. “Even though we can’t seek sponsors for the people we want to help, we still have other ways to help through fundraising sites, our network, and experience.”

According to Rinehart, Bettie Retro learned of The Undergreen Railroad’s existence soon after its inception. “She understands our current limitations and she still needs our help,” Lindsey said.

Click on this link to help single mom and cannabis warrior Bettie Retro — GoFundMe: Bring Bettie Retro Home to Portland

“The Undergreen Railroad is such a beautifully compassionate idea,” Retro told us. “I just can’t stress how grateful I am for this opportunity. Selfless people like Lindsey and the rest making this move a reality for me renew my faith that there are people out there in the cannabis community, not for personal interest but to help others. ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem like enough.”

Application Process On the Way

“Soon, there will be an application process where people will be able to apply for our help,” Rinehart told us. “It will be granted on a case-by-case basis, based on how many ‘conductors’ are available. As people get moved, we can help more people.”

Lindsey is asking people to come forward if they would like to help with The Undergreen Railroad, especially if they feel that it is their calling to help patients get to medical marijuana states. “Kristi Wheeler had this same idea and is organizing in Colorado,” Rinehart told us. “The more that this gets going state by state, the better.”

Those interested in being a part of The Underground Railroad can contact the organization through its Facebook page, or The Undergreen Railroad website has an email form.

“We need people in every state who want to help, to come forward and let us know,” Lindsey said. That’s the case whether people have a room available for travelers to sleep in on their way to their destination, offers of child care for newly arrived families, even offers of donated medication they can give to incoming patients once their have their medical marijuana card. “Or even help with furniture, or unloading a U-Haul; people need our help,” Rinehart added. “If someone can help, please let us know.”

Bring Back Bettie Dinner and Fundraiser, Portland, Oregon, January 4, 2014

 

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