State senators say they want to keep Idaho “clean.”
The Idaho Senate has passed a resolution that bans the production, sale, and possession of cannabis in the state. The decision is in sharp contrast to what lawmakers and voters are doing in other states.
If passed by the Idaho House of Representatives by a two-thirds margin, the measure would go in front of voters on the midterm election ballot. If passed by voters, it would effectively prohibit cannabis legalization in the state, even if voters later approved it.
Interestingly, debate on the bill was something of a throwback to the last century, with a significant portion of it revolving on terms that seemed to address the morality of using cannabis.
Idahoans like cannabis, but politicians want to do “what’s right.”
Part of the debate on the cannabis ban centered on issues of right vs. wrong. One Republican senator choked up during debate over the bill, saying: “Good senators, I beg you: we have to keep this state clean,” according to Boise State Public Radio.
The Idaho Senate’s decision is particularly interesting when you consider how popular marijuana is to actual Idahoans. They frequently cross the Oregon border to buy marijuana. State officials in both Oregon and Washington have reported that some of the counties with the highest amounts of cannabis sales are along the Oregon border.
But while supporters of a weed ban made it clear that they are aware of that, it did little to sway their opinion. Republican Sen. Lee Heider said: “I know there are those who complain about having to go to Oregon or Washington to buy their drugs and that’s unfortunate. They’ll continue to have to do that, but in Idaho, we believe in doing what’s right.”
Idaho is one of only 14 states not to approve medical marijuana.
The measure’s language is straightforward. It stipulates that “production, manufacture, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession, or use of a psychoactive drug shall not be permitted in the state of Idaho.”
The amendment’s language went further, casting cannabis as the villain that breaks adults and prevents families from flourishing. The amendment calls for an Idaho that has a “drug-free environment where children, families, businesses and communities can flourish.” It adds that “it is easier to build strong children than repair broken adults.”
Not surprisingly, Idaho is one of only 14 states where medical marijuana is not legal. Three of those states have no legal marijuana of any kind: Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas. The other 11 allow only CBD or products with low levels of THC: Wyoming, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
Republican Sen. Scott Grow, who sponsored the ban, called Idaho the “last foxhole” in its region that doesn’t allow some form of cannabis use.
As for the potential revenue that marijuana sales could bring the state, Grow called them “insignificant.” However, reports from states have indicated that marijuana sales and tax revenue skyrocketed in 2020 from already high levels. For example, California has reached almost $2 billion in cannabis tax revenue. And many of the legal states have allocated cannabis tax dollars to public health and safety programs, education, and social equity programs.