50 States

50 States: Idaho

By David Jenison

Medical: No
Recreational: No
Decriminalized: No

As previously reported on PRØHBTD, an Idaho-state prosecutor recently charged three teenagers with felonies for cannabis possessions. The 14-, 15- and 17-year-old could face up to five years in jail each due to a new state law passed earlier this year that made cannabis possession a felony for everyone regardless of their age. Similarly, the state apparently thinks any pro-cannabis activist must be irresponsible and dangerous since Child Protective Services in 2013 scooped up the children of three outspoken parents who were strongly advocating for medical cannabis. The Idaho Office of Drug Policy page on Facebook regularly spews ignorant anti-cannabis propaganda, and an Idaho Politics Weekly poll earlier this year reported that 53 percent of residents strongly oppose legalization and another 11 percent simply oppose it.

To put it another way, Salon.com published “The 9 States Where Marijuana Will Be Legalized Last” in 2015, and Idaho finished second after Alabama.

The same aforementioned poll found that 33 percent support or somewhat support legalization, and a Boise State Universitysurvey in 2011 surprisingly found that 74 percent of Idaho residents support medical cannabis use for “terminally and seriously ill patients.” A grassroots organization called New Approach Idaho continues to gather signatures to put medical cannabis and decriminalization on the November 2016 ballot. Idaho is a state with citizen-initiative process, but so far it has been a hard sell for medical-cannabis campaigners to get the measure on the ballot.

Change will not come soon, but Idaho came close to its first victory earlier this year. After making it through a Senate committee on a 5-4 vote, a bill to legalize cannabidiol (CBD) oil narrowly passed the state legislature. Named after an 11-year-old epileptic named Alexis Carey, the bill allowed parents to posses liquid cannabidiol (CBD) with a maximum .03 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content to treat children with seizure disorders. And would you believe the governor vetoed the bill on the grounds that it raises too many questions.

All is not completely lost, however, since the governor did issue an executive order to study the effects of CBD oil on seizure disorders. The state will begin tests on up to 25 Idaho children who suffer from persistent seizures. Approximately 1,500 children in the state currently meet the requirements, i.e., suffer from at least four seizures a month despite trying at least four different antiepileptic medications.

Claire Carey, the mother of Alexis, told The Spokesman-Review, “It just made me lose all hope. The only way we are going to get access in Idaho is with a federal bill.”

Unfortunately, she is probably correct.

Photo credit: Unsplash

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