I once wrote an article describing how scared I felt being a marijuana consumer in Idaho. I’m no longer at that outlet because it’s a Frankenstein that has been used to rip off activists and is currently locked in litigation, so I won’t link to the article. But if you have ever been to Idaho I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. I have lived my entire life in Oregon, but I have a lot of relatives that live in Idaho along the I-84 corridor, many of which are marijuana consumers.
Whereas Oregon has voted to legalize recreational marijuana and has had a medical marijuana program for quite some time, Idaho is still stuck in the past when it comes to marijuana policy. In 2013 Idaho’s Legislature actually passed a bill that essentially stated that Idaho would never legalize marijuana. That’s right, Idaho somehow found a way to make marijuana even more illegal…
As it stands, Idaho is surrounded by states that have voted to reform marijuana laws, with the exception of Utah and Wyoming. Utah has an unworkable CBD-specific bill, but I don’t count that as it doesn’t help any patients. Washington, Oregon, and Nevada all share a border with Idaho, and have all legalized recreational marijuana. Montana also shares a border with Idaho, and recently voted to legalize medical marijuana for a second time.
One would think that with reform having so much momentum in surrounding states that Idaho would take a good hard look at reforming its own marijuana laws. However, sadly, that’s not the case. The mood in Idaho among many elected officials and law enforcement is that Idaho is being flooded by out of state marijuana, and that Idaho needs to battle the devil’s lettuce at all costs, to the bitter end.
Idaho elected officials need to realize that Idaho doesn’t have a marijuana problem, it has a prohibition problem. Idaho needs jobs, and needs tax revenues, and needs to be wise with every law enforcement dollar that it has. Dedicating enormous resources to fighting a substance that has been proven to be 114 times safer than alcohol is wasteful to say the least. Idaho’s marijuana policies harm families and ruin lives. I know that because it has happened to people in my family.
I don’t know that legalization can be achieved in Idaho in the near future, but I do feel strongly that there is a great shot at adding Idaho to the list of medical marijuana states. For the 2016 election cycle, 47,623 valid signatures were required to put medical marijuana on the ballot in Idaho. Compared to other states, that is not a huge amount. What level of support there would be for a medical marijuana initiative would largely be determined by the language of the initiative. I don’t think that Idaho would be willing to pass a medical marijuana law as liberal as Oregon’s, but I do think that a tempered initiative would have a great chance of passing, which would provide much needed safe access to suffering Idaho patients. Hopefully with the recent victories in conservative states like Montana, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Florida national orgs will give a strong look at funding an initiative in Idaho, along with the help of local activists!