A few years ago I posted an article describing how scary of a place Idaho is when you are a marijuana consumer. I still feel that way. Most of my family on one side currently lives in Idaho, and some of the stories they tell me are downright sad and frightening. A lot of them use marijuana for medical purposes, and are fully aware what would happen if they were ever caught doing so. They would serve jail time, pay a hefty fine, and have their lives ruined in many ways, all for consuming a plant that has proven medical value, and is far safer than pharmaceutical drugs.
New Approach Idaho is currently gathering signatures for a medical marijuana bill that would also decriminalize marijuana possession in Idaho and legalize industrial hemp. Per the Rexburg Standard Journal:
New Approach Idaho, Inc. is the grassroots, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization that is leading the people's statewide effort in circulating the current three-pronged citizen's initiative to place medical cannabis, decriminalization of three ounces or less and an industrial hemp program on the November 2016 state ballot.
In order for the petition to break out of its current initiative status and graduate to the next level of becoming a bill, it requires a total of 47,623 signatures. But not just any signatures --- only the ones penned by currently registered Idaho voters.
The attrition rate of unverified signatures coming back from the various county elections clerks offices has been high. Out of the thousands upon thousands of signatures gathered thus far, a little less than 50 percent have actually been valid, despite enormous efforts made by NAI staff and volunteers to check voter registration status beforehand, as well as instructing the general public on how to get registered.
While the validation rate is not as high as some would hope, it's better than the signature validation rate that got marijuana legalization on the Ohio ballot. I don't know if the media outlet in Idaho was trying to dampen the efforts of signature gatherers by trying to paint the validation rate in such a poor light, but fact of the matter is the Idaho validation rate is not unheard of in initiative politics. New Approach Idaho is doing an AMAZING job right now, and they should be commended. If you live in Idaho, please do your part by signing the initiative, urging others to do the same, and by contributing to the crowd funding effort that New Approach Idaho is running (you can do so at this link).
Idaho takes far less signatures compared to a lot of other states, and I really hope to see this campaign get some national backing. Every dollar that is put towards efforts in Idaho is a dollar that goes much farther compared to other states. I'm not saying to not donate to other states, because every state deserves backing, I'm just saying that national organization and donors need to not forget Idaho when they are cutting checks. If Idaho legalized medical marijuana, it would be a victory that would send a message to every other state in America that no state is off limits when it comes to reform. Go get 'em Idaho!