Activists gathering signatures for 2020 medical marijuana ballot measure
Last update: January 13, 2020
Idaho remains the only state in the country without any kind of law recognizing the medical or therapeutic value of cannabis. But advocates with the Idaho Cannabis Coalition are working to change that, and voters may have an opportunity to legalize medical marijuana through a ballot initiative later this year. You can read a summary of the proposal here.
The petition was approved for circulation in August last year. Supporters need to collect just over 55,000 signatures throughout the state by April 30 in order to qualify for the 2020 ballot.
Bill Esbensen, a leader of the campaign, spoke to the press after filing the petition: “Nobody should be condemned to suffer just because they live in the wrong state. Our initiative brings Idaho up to speed with states like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and West Virginia by protecting people who are just trying to treat their medical condition with a non-toxic plant.”
With the new legislative session kicking off in January, lawmakers may take up a bill addressing hemp legalization this 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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