I have quite a bit of family in Idaho. I would travel there regularly with my family growing up to visit relatives, and there’s a lot that I love about the state. Idaho has a lot of beautiful areas and a lot of awesome people.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of cannabis prohibitionists in Idaho too. Idaho is a very scary place to be a cannabis consumer. The state is the only one in the nation to have vetoed a CBD-only bill. Idaho’s Senate once passed a resolution to oppose any attempts to legalize cannabis. It is against the law to even have cannabis in your system in Idaho.
When I would visit relatives in Idaho, they would tell me how lucky I was to live in Oregon, and not only because of Oregon’s superior cannabis laws. They also would say it’s because of how available cannabis was in my state. I have not seen brick weed for many years in Oregon, but my cousins in Idaho still have to resort to consuming it sometimes out of desperation.
In recent years Idaho cannabis consumers have finally had a steady cannabis hookup. Unfortunately, that hookup is not located in Idaho. It’s across the Snake River in Huntington, Oregon. It’s not exactly a secret that Idaho cannabis consumers are crossing the river to make purchases in Huntington. The news media has covered the phenomenon extensively.
Every one of those Idaho cannabis consumer purchases benefits the state of Oregon. Oregon’s state cannabis tax, which is 17% of every purchase, gets spread in the following manner:
- 40 percent to Common School Fund
- 20 percent to Mental Health Alcoholism and Drug Services
- 15 percent to State Police
- 10 percent to Cities for enforcement of the measure
- 10 percent to Counties for enforcement of the measure
- 5 percent to Oregon Health Authority for alcohol and drug abuse prevention
As an Oregonian, seeing all of those tax dollars coming from out of state is awesome, especially the tax dollars that go towards public schools. But it’s also bittersweet because those Idaho cannabis tax dollars should really be benefitting Idaho schools. All of my family in Idaho attended or currently attends public schools. I have to assume that all of their schools could use more revenue.
The City of Ontario, which is right across the Snake River, is voting next week on whether or not to allow legal adult-use cannabis sales. If it passes, it will likely result in even more Idaho cannabis consumer dollars coming to Oregon. Ontario is a shorter distance from Boise compared to Huntington and it’s on the way to more stuff.
I don’t think it’s a leap to assume that because of that, more Idahoans will decide to make legal cannabis purchases if/when the Ontario measure passes. That will result in that much more tax revenue going out of state that should have stayed in Idaho.
Idaho needs to get its head out of the sand and get with the times. Cannabis use by Idaho residents is not going away. To pretend that if Idaho clings to cannabis prohibition that it will somehow stop Idaho residents from consuming cannabis is absolutely ridiculous.
The choice for Idaho lawmakers is not whether or not there will be Idaho consumer dollars being spent on cannabis. It’s a choice of whether they want to see those dollars go out of state or if they want to see them stay in Idaho. Washington, Nevada, Oregon, and now Canada all allow legal adult use sales. If Idaho wants to help itself, it will get on the right side of history as soon as possible by passing a medical cannabis law, or even better, a full legalization law.