Almost all of the maternal side of my family is from Idaho. I have traveled there many times to visit family (mostly in the Middleton area, go Vikings!) and ever since I became a cannabis consumer, I have been frightened to my core while staying there. It’s to the point that I just don’t consume cannabis while I’m there, which isn’t too hard considering that the cannabis in Idaho leaves a lot to be desired. It has always blown my mind, and not in a good way, that just one state over from Oregon prohibition reigns supreme.
Going to Idaho is a lot like going back in time when it comes to cannabis policy. The mindset of most of my relatives there is either ‘prohibition rules, 100%!’ or for my relatives that consume, they basically only do so in the cloak of darkness inside their house, with the door locked and the Febreeze spray readily available at all times. Even then, they are scared. All of this over a plant that is now legal in 8 states (and Washington D.C.) for adult use, and nearing 30 states for medical use.
Idaho is about as unfriendly of a place for cannabis as you will find in America. That’s not to say that there aren’t hardworking activists there, because there absolutely is. Some of the hardest working, most dedicated activists that I know are either in Idaho now or came from there. But it’s a tough state to get on the right side of history, with politicians that seem to be full blown addicted to cannabis prohibition. Idaho’s Senate once passed a resolution which banned marijuana reform. Idaho politicians somehow found a way to make marijuana even more illegal. Wrap your head around that lameness.
Leading the cannabis prohibition parade in Idaho is Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. As far as I know, Governor Otter is the only Governor to veto a CBD-specific cannabis reform bill. The bill would have allowed kids with severe forms of epilepsy to treat the disease with CBD oil. How someone could be against that, given all of the evidence that CBD oil works very well for people suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, is beyond me. Governor Otter recently wrote a letter to President Trump discussing federal cooperation and with the new administration. The letter specifically touched on marijuana reform in surrounding states. Per the Point Register:
And he sought more flexibility from a host of programs, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But he specifically urged Trump to use the full power of the federal government against neighboring states that have legalized marijuana.
“Among the most pressing concerns facing Idaho, both from the criminal and public health standpoints, is the utter lack of consistency displayed by the Obama administration in enforcement of federal marijuana laws,” Otter wrote. “In that respect, Idaho is a virtual island of compliance, and we are paying the price.”
The price Idahoans are paying, according to Otter, is that people are bringing marijuana into the state. The illegal marijuana affects Idaho youths, taxpayers, law enforcement officers, jails and health care systems, said Elisha Figueroa, administrator of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.
Idaho is bordered by Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. Three of those states now allow cannabis for adult use, and Montana allows cannabis for medical use. Reform efforts are picking up in Utah and Wyoming, and I think sooner than later Idaho will be surrounded by reformed states. Idaho does not have a marijuana problem. Idaho has a marijuana prohibition problem. People are going to keep consuming marijuana in Idaho regardless of if its legal or not. Patients are going to be suffering in Idaho and looking for relief from cannabis. Shouldn’t Idaho politicians want them to be accessing cannabis via a regulated market instead of in the shadows, with profits often benefiting cartels or gangs?
If Governor Otter cared about Idaho’s youth, he would want to see a regulated industry, taxes from which going to education programs that provide science based information to Idaho’s youth, rather than easy-to-debunk marijuana propaganda. If Governor Otter really cared about taxpayers, law enforcement officers, and jails, he wouldn’t want to keep wasting resources locking up people that are caught with a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. A recent poll found that 68% of law enforcement officers wanted to’relax marijuana laws.’ It’s not hard to understand why – officers signed up to fight real crime, and not busting people for having a cannabis pipe in their backpack like my cousin, who served months in jail for the offense. That jail bed should have been reserved for a violent criminal and/or sex offender. But not on Governor Otter’s watch. Instead he is doubling down on prohibition, and asking President Trump for backup. So stupid.