It’s Illegal to Be a Stoner in Idaho

Boise Hempfest is Saturday, April 15, at Julia Davis Park - Russ Belville will be speaking

Idaho Is
Idaho - one of only five remaining absolute prohibition states, one of only four states that criminalize merely being high in public, and the only state to have vetoed a CBD-oil bill for epileptic kids.

The Boise Hempfest is taking place on Saturday, April 15, at Julia Davis Park. I will be returning to the land of my birth for the third time to speak and present factual cannabis information to my fellow Idahoans.

It’s always harrowing returning to Idaho. For 375 miles of road trip across I-84 from Portland, I’m in Oregon, legal to be me.

When I cross that Snake River over the Idaho border, though, for the next 50 miles I am a criminal.

Not because I’m smuggling marijuana into Idaho. I don’t take weed to red states (anymore). Besides, wherever I go, I tend to run into friendly people who have plenty of weed and are willing to share.

No, because when I cross the border into Idaho, I am illegal by virtue of the active THC that is always in my bloodstream.

In Idaho, it is illegal to be high in public.

Yes, you read that right. Under Idaho law, it is illegal to merely BE high in public. In neighboring Wyoming, you can get a misdemeanor with 6 months and a $750 fine for being high in public. New Jersey will give you a misdemeanor with 6 months and a $1,000 fine. But Idaho will give you a misdemeanor with 1 year and a $1,000 fine.

Now, how do they determine that you’re high in public? Well, the key words here are “under the influence.” That’s what’s illegal in public, being under the influence.

So, to the mind of an Idaho prosecutor, I’m betting that means “when we can detect active THC in your system.” Hell, they might even aim for inactive metabolites, but I think a decent defense lawyer could argue out of that one over the word “inactive.”

Quest Diagnostics, the nation’s leading industrial drug tester, says that THC is detectable for 1-3 days for infrequent users and up to 30 days for frequent users.

Sounds to me like I could be here in my home in Portland, legally smoke my marijuana, wake up the next day, drive to Boise to speak at your Hempfest, and technically, under the law, still be “under the influence” of marijuana.

In fact, it sounds like, to me, and I’m no lawyer, that anybody who regularly smokes pot becomes a criminal in Idaho the moment they step out in public, because they’ve always got a little active THC in their system. Even if they smoked that pot in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, or Washington DC, where that’s perfectly legal.

If you think Idaho’s the worst compared to Wyoming and New Jersey, you’re right. But in South Dakota, none of this is a legal theory about what “under the influence” means. Their law explicitly punishes anybody for what’s called “internal possession” – the only state that has this – where having consumed drugs means you’re possessing them criminally.

Their law further states that it doesn’t matter if you came to “internally possess” that drug in a place where it was legal to do so. If it’s in your body, being in public in South Dakota is a misdemeanor that merits 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

That’s four states in this country where I am illegal just because of my body chemistry. Four states where I can be caged and fined over a piss test.

A local radio station asks, “Well what’s the point of even having this event if weed is illegal in Idaho?” Duh… that’s the whole reason Boise needs a Hempfest, so the people have some exposure to the truth about cannabis. When it’s illegal to be public, these opportunities for public interaction in Idaho are rare.

Plan on joining me and other activists at the Boise Hempfest on April 15. I’m going to see if I can convince a cop to arrest me for being under the influence in public.

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 198 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on MJAgenda.com.  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.