Earlier this year, Idaho lawmakers approved a law to establish draconian signature gathering requirements for voter-initiated ballot measures, making it exceedingly difficult to qualify. The law, signed by Gov. Brad Little, would have forced petitioners to collect signatures from at least 6% of registered voters in every one of the state’s 35 legislative districts — a challenging and costly feat for any signature drive campaign. But with the court’s recent decision, previous rules are reinstated, and petitioners need signatures from 6% of voters in only 18 districts.
Local advocates working with Kind Idaho are collecting signatures to put a medical cannabis initiative on the ballot in 2022. A separate effort to place a decriminalization measure on the ballot is gaining steam in light of the recent court ruling, too. Each petition needs roughly 65,000 voter signatures by May 2022 to qualify for the general election ballot.
Many of Idaho’s politicians are out of step with their constituents on cannabis policy. But dedicated organizers and advocates in the state are organizing for change.
Under current Idaho law, an individual charged with possession of up to an ounce of marijuana faces a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Unfortunately, this draconian law hits minority communities the hardest. According to the ACLU, Black Idahoans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession than their white neighbors.
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The Idaho Legislature recently sent SB 1110 to Gov. Little’s desk. By creating extremely burdensome requirements for the signature gathering process, the bill is designed to effectively strip Idahoans of their right to initiate laws through the ballot process.