Idaho lags behind 49 states on medical cannabis

Last update: January 30, 2019


Idaho lags far behind other states when it comes to sensible marijuana policies. It is the only remaining state whose law does not acknowledge medical cannabis in any way. Having evolved from his prior opposition, newly elected Gov. Brad Little recently said he is not opposed to medical cannabis but doesn’t want it to be a “gateway into recreational”.

Click here to write your state lawmakers to ask them to propose a comprehensive medical cannabis bill this year. The year’s 2019 legislative session is underway, and this is the perfect time to reach out. 

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, former Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the bill.

In 2018, 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 While this action was formally withdrawn, the bill was never considered during the 2018 session.

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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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