Idaho continues to lag behind other states on marijuana policy reform — it is the only remaining state in the country that does not acknowledge any form of medical marijuana under state law. However, lawmakers this year have proposed two bills to move the state in the right direction.
Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) is cosponsoring legislation with Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R-Idaho Falls) to replace penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses involving half an ounce or less with a civil infraction and fine of $250 or eight hours of community service. Currently, possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in prison.
Reps. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) and Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) have introduced a bill that would legalize hemp. Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland) is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. The move comes on the heels of passage of the most recent Farm Bill at the federal level, which removed hemp from Schedule I status and removes barriers to research and development of the crop. But despite the change in federal law, hemp remains classified as marijuana in Idaho. State police recently seized nearly 7,000 pounds of hemp from a truck driver traveling from Oregon to Colorado. The trucker now faces felony trafficking charges.
No bill to legalize medical marijuana has been introduced this year. Use our email tool to contact your state legislators and urge them to support the creation of a compassionate medical marijuana program. Newly-elected Gov. Brad Little recently opened the door to potentially supporting some kind of medical marijuana law.
Please get involved and contact your elected officials. Marijuana prohibition has failed in Idaho, and it's time to enact reform.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the highly contested Farm Bill yesterday. Although representatives re-crafted the bill to remove provisions for food stamp funding, they left a hemp amendment intact.
The amendment would change federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes in states where hemp cultivation and production is permitted by state law. The bill must still pass the Senate before final approval.
Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Kentucky expressed their support for the amendment. Comer said, “Without a doubt, this was an historic day for industrial hemp in America.”
The bill narrowly passed on a 216-208 vote.
Yesterday, we told you about an amendment to H.R. 1947, “the farm bill,” that would allow universities and colleges to cultivate industrial hemp. We asked you to call your representatives and help pass this amendment, and you came through! Earlier today, by a vote of 225-200, the House adopted the amendment. Despite the full bill being voted down because of partisan differences, this is a big victory.
Why is it so important? First, the DEA lobbied hard against us and lost. This is perhaps the first time that Congress has listened to arguments from the DEA and advocates for marijuana policy reform, then sided with us. Second, even though this bill won’t pass, there’s a good chance the amendment will get inserted into other legislation now that the full House has approved it.
Here’s the bottom line: the tide is turning. No longer do members of Congress blindly listen to the DEA and ignore advocates. We’re making real progress, and with your help, we can continue building support for further reforms.