Idaho’s gubernatorial hopefuls differ on marijuana policy views

Last update: April 25, 2018


Idaho lags far behind other states when it comes to sensible marijuana policies and is one of only two remaining states whose law does not acknowledge medical cannabis in any way. One major opponent has been Gov. Butch Otter, who is not running for re-election. Local advocate Wayne Hoffman has written about the views of the leading gubernatorial candidates in the Republican primary here.* Neither candidate supports medical marijuana, but U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador does support allowing Idahoans to use CBD oil, as well as eliminating mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenses.

On the Democratic side,* candidate Paulette Jordan supports legalizing and regulating marijuana, but A.J. Balukoff declined to express support even for the more limited step of decriminalizing cannabis. Both parties’ primaries will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. More information on voting (including online registration for people who have an Idaho driver’s license or ID card) is available at

* MPP, a non-partisan organization, provides these links for informational purposes and is not endorsing or opposing any candidate.

Idaho lags behind 48 states on medical cannabis


In 2015, the Idaho Legislature approved S1146, an extremely limited bill that would have protected some seriously ill Idahoans from being convicted for possessing medical marijuana oils with very low amounts of THC. Sadly, Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the bill.

This year, when a lawmaker called for a hearing on a similar bill, HB 577, the Senate Health and Welfare Chairman, Lee Heider, allegedly violated the state’s open meetings law in an attempt to block the bill from consideration, yelling behind closed doors that the governor’s office did not “want this bill.” While this action was formally withdrawn, the bill was never considered during the 2018 session.

As noted above, however, Idaho will have a new governor in 2019. Click here to write your state lawmakers to ask them to propose a comprehensive medical cannabis bill next year.

Learn more about Idaho’s marijuana laws


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 over two and half times more likely to be arrested for possession than their white neighbors. A bipartisan effort to reduce these penalties was introduced in 2018 by Rep. Eric Redman (R-Athol) and John Gannon (D-Boise), H0491, but unfortunately it never received a hearing.

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