Idaho Activists Continue Drive To Get Medical Cannabis Measure On 2024 Ballot

Idaho Activists Continue Drive To Get Medical Cannabis Measure On 2024 Ballot

An advocacy group is determined to bring medical cannabis to Idaho, one of the last remaining states with no form of legal weed. 

The group is called Kind Idaho, and its supporters are currently in the process of rounding up signatures to get the proposal on next year’s ballot.

Joe Evans, the treasurer for the group, said the aim is to simply legalize “medical cannabis for cardholders in the state of Idaho.”

“This gives them the opportunity to go in, sit down with a doctor, determine whether or not the diagnosis warrants medical cannabis to support recovery and healing. And then they receive the card. And that allows them to go to a dispensary to receive it,” Evans told local news station KTVB.

Here’s more from the station on what the group is pursuing:

“Kind Idaho is working to gather signatures on their petitions, they have until April 14 next year to get about 63,000 signatures from registered voters to make the ballot. It’s a major task to take on, adding in the fact that Idaho is one of five states where there is no legal cannabis on any level.”

The group launched its efforts to get on the 2024 ballot last year, the latest in a decade of failed efforts to legalize medical cannabis treatment in Idaho. In 2012, activists failed to gather a sufficient number of signatures for their medical cannabis proposal to qualify for the ballot. Two years later, it happened again, with a signature drive falling short. Medical cannabis campaigns in 2015 and 2016 both fizzled out over ballot technicalities. 

Evans and company hope this time will be different –– and the public might be on their side. A poll last year found that 68% of Idaho adults believe that medical cannabis should be made legal. 

Evans and other supporters of the proposal are stressing that the initiative would not legalize recreational marijuana use.

“Nor are we really looking at a full decriminalization, or let’s, you know, give people medicine, medical cannabis for headaches,” Evans told KTVB.

Idaho is, however, surrounded by states that have legalized recreational pot for adults: Washington and Oregon to the west; Nevada to the south; and Montana to the east. Wyoming and Utah are the only two states bordering Idaho that have not ended prohibition on pot.

That confluence of geography and federalism has prompted many Idaho residents to cross the border to obtain some legal weed.

Cannabis businesses in Ontario, Oregon –– located about an hour from Idaho’s capital city of Boise –– have served hordes of cross-state customers. 

“The politicians have been able to have this scenario where they say that they don’t have legal cannabis,” Steve Meland, owner of Hotbox Farms in Ontario, told NPR earlier this year. “But in all actuality we all know there’s legal cannabis in Boise.”

“There [are] over a million people within a hundred mile radius of the store,” Meland added. “Of course they are serving a broader market.”

NPR reported that Meland’s business is “a big player in an economic boom that’s happened since Ontario allowed recreational pot shops in 2018.” 

“There are now twelve dispensaries in this small farming town once mostly known for inventing the tater tot. Ontario now sells more pot per capita than anywhere else in Oregon. The industry employs about 600 people. Many get health insurance and most – like their customers – appear to be commuting over here from Idaho,” the outlet said.

According to NPR, that boom “has quickly become the latest flashpoint in a larger political and cultural battle that’s been heating up since 2020, when a group of Oregonians from the rural eastern side of the state first began circulating petitions about a proposal to secede from the largely blue state and join conservative Idaho.”

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