Whether high upon the Rocky Mountains or way down low on Snake River Plain, Idaho showcases the beauty of nature. As the 44th least densely populated state in the USA it stands to reason. As such, Idaho has made best to capitalize on the environment and the nature that surrounds them. But there are some things natural that Idaho has been slow to embrace. See, Idaho is one of only a few states that does not have legal medical marijuana in any form, let alone recreational. So why is Idaho taking so long to follow the rest of the country?
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Marijuana Laws Idaho
Outlawed in 1927, marijuana was only legal in the state of Idaho for 37 years. But how illegal is it? It depends on how much you’re caught with. Possession of 3 ounces or less can result in a $1000 fine and potentially up to a year in prison. Possession of 3 ounces or more (up to 1 lb) carries a $10,000 fine and up to 5 years prison. Larger amounts enter the realm of trafficking and carry the states enforced mandatory minimum sentences. Even being in possession of a bong can result in a year of prison. If you think that’s bad, it’s also worth noting that being caught intoxicated in public can also result in a year in jail. Not caught using, just being intoxicated.
Going Against Federal Law
Further, hemp is also treated the same as marijuana in Idaho, despite having less than 0.3% THC. Although the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp at the federal level, this directly contradicts Idaho’s state laws. While most are willing to acknowledge the difference, Idaho appears to be the exception. This has led to some incidents arising. One such was in 2019 when Idaho State Police pulled over a Big Sky Scientific semi-truck carrying 6,700 pounds of hemp. The State Police seized the hemp, and charged the driver with felony marijuana tracking. There is a lawsuit pending between Big Sky Scientific and the State of Idaho over the seized hemp. Ultimately, the driver was granted withheld judgment and unsupervised probation for a year.
Presently there isn’t much on the cards for the State of Idaho when it comes to medicinal, and its future could be as sad as its past. Idaho’s lack of medicinal marijuana is not for lack of trying. In 2015 a bill was passed that would allow Idahoans access to CBD oil if they met the prerequisites, but was promptly shot down and vetoed by the state governor.
Do Idaho Residents Want Legal Marijuana?
To say the least, public opinion is not divided on this issue. In spite of the state’s historical opposition to legalization, the public wants it. A 2019 Idaho Politics Weekly poll found that 73% of the state strongly supports legalizing medical marijuana. It should come as no surprise then that citizens were recently petitioning for legalization and decriminalization. Unfortunately though, due to the coronavirus lockdowns, volunteers didn’t get the required 55,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. They did manage to gather 40,000 signatures however, an impressive feat regardless. The campaign spokesperson plans to keep working, and is hoping for a vote sometime in 2022.
Rhode Island Marijuana Laws
Idaho is also home to Boise Hempfest, held in the state capital annually since 2016. The event, billed as a cannabis rights activism festival, aims to raise awareness of the benefits that legalized marijuana could have for the state of Idaho. Featuring speakers, artists, bands, and chefs, the next Hempfest is on October 17th, 2020.
Looking To The Future
Idaho seems to be stuck at an impasse with itself. While the public is adamant on seeing legalization take place, the government of Idaho evidently will see themselves damned before this will happen. While the petition and potential vote in November offers a glimmer of hope for Idahoans, the established elements of Idaho’s governance may prove too much for grassroots powers. However, with the entire country embracing legalization, and recognizing the medicinal and economic effects, Idaho may have no choice soon but to follow suit.