As marijuana legalization spreads across the U.S., Idaho is moving in the opposite direction.
Marijuana Prohibition in Idaho
In a lawsuit filed last November, Idaho officials insisted that constitutional Amendment A goes against Idaho law. The amendment was going to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, while state lawmakers passed regulations on hemp. As of now, Idaho law dictates that CBD must have 0% THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana), a formula that is very difficult to produce. Most CBD has around 0 .3% THC― the federally legal threshold.
This attack on marijuana activism stems from the state’s deep-rooted anger with its neighboring states that allow legalized marijuana. Even when the legislature passed a bill that would have allowed children and parents with epilepsy to bring CBD oil into the state, the Governor at the time, Butch Otter, vetoed it. Many petition attempts for putting medical marijuana on the ballot have failed, as Idaho law requires signatures of 6% of legal voters in the 18 legislative districts.
Republican State Senator Scott Grow said, “When drugs are legalized that are currently illegal, it increases healthcare costs and crime. This is about money. It is not about caring for people who might have pain or sickness.”
Support for Marijuana Legalization
While many in the Senate are unwavering on the subject, there are some voices of reason. One is Democratic Senator Michelle Stennett, who believes marijuana is a viable medical treatment. “Passing this would prohibit Idaho doctors and patients from making medical choices. This is a direct impact on the ability of Idahoans to do good medical health care.”
Marijuana has been known to ease many different kinds of pain and get rid of nausea― common side effects for people with cancer or terminal disease.
Dan Zuzkerman, Director of St. Luke’s Cancer Institute, treats terminally ill patients who need marijuana. He stated, “I’ve seen it myself with my own eyes. The data is clear that patients benefit from this.”
Bill Esbensen, part of the Idaho Citizens Coalition, is furious the state is considering this ban. He said to lawmakers, “You guys are so afraid of marijuana, you’re willing to blow up the state constitution.” Most people in the state wanted medical marijuana approved, which puts the ban at odds with the will of the people.
The joint resolution would require the Senate to pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority, then it would go to the House where it would again need a two-thirds majority vote. After that, it would go before voters in the November 2022 general election, requiring a simple majority to pass.
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