State lawmakers enact rules to make ballot initiatives more difficult
Last update: June 1, 2021
In February, an organization of medical cannabis advocates, Kind Idaho, announced they had received approval from the secretary of state to begin collecting signatures for their petition to put a medical cannabis initiative on the ballot in 2022.
Future ballot campaigns in Idaho will face an even steeper uphill battle after lawmakers approved new signature gathering requirements that make the qualification process significantly more challenging. The law, signed by Gov. Brad Little, requires petitioners to collect signatures from at least 6% of registered voters in all 35 state legislative districts. Previously, ballot measure proponents needed 6% of voters in only 18 districts — and those rules apply to the 2022 medical cannabis campaign, since their petition was approved prior to enactment of the new law. Gathering signatures is far more challenging in rural parts of the state, and this new rule will drastically increase the resources needed to qualify an initiative — including cannabis policy reforms — for the ballot.
In a bit of good news from this year’s legislative session, MPP and other advocates were successful in defeating a separate legislative effort to constitutionally prohibit the legalization of any controlled substance, which would have included efforts to establish a medical cannabis program.
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.