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.
MPP released a video last week listing the country's "Worst State Legislators of 2013" on marijuana policy issues. The seven state representatives and one state senator were selected based on their legislative efforts to maintain or expand marijuana prohibition policies, as well as statements they made, during the 2013 legislative sessions. Watch the video countdown below.
The Huffington Post reports:
The video counts down the MPP's top eight marijuana policy offenders, alongside some direct quotes that are questionable, to say the least.
Take, for instance, Rep. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), who called bongs and pipes "utensils of death;" Rep. Luke Malek (R-Coeur d'Alene) who called medical marijuana a "farcical predatory scheme;" and Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) -- whose home state of Montana has been battling a crippling meth epidemic -- who called marijuana a "poison" and "the most dangerous drug there is."
The list also garnered some local media attention in Colorado, where the #1 worst legislator of 2013, Sen. John Morse (D), is facing a highly talked-about recall election, and in Iowa, where the #7 worst legislator, Rep. Clel Baudler (R), bragged about being listed.
Doug and Patricia Rohrick are embroiled in a custody battle over their great-granddaughter. The Colorado couple told reporters that the El Paso County Department of Human Services denied their requests to adopt 10-month-old Saya because they were medical marijuana patients.
Mr. Rohrick said that he and his wife have been open about their legal medical use since the beginning of the adoption process – and even cared for the child without incident for several months - and that it was not a problem until a DHS employee’s intervention on Monday, June 8.
“They walked in with a cell phone in the air and handed it around to everybody and said the deputy director of DHS has stated that anybody with a medical marijuana card could not have custody of any children,” Rohrick said.
The El Paso County DHS has released conflicting statements regarding their policy of placing foster children with medical marijuana patients. In response to Rohrick’s claim, Executive Director Rick Bengtsson said there is no policy denying relatives custody because of marijuana use. Instead, he stated that custody decisions are made on a case-by-case basis with a premium on the child’s safety and well-being.
However, in 2010, Bengtsson issued a directive to the El Paso County DHS clarifying the organization’s policy as one of zero-tolerance. The directive stated: “EPC will not place children in licensed foster homes if a foster parent is using or intends to use medical marijuana, even though under state law they may do so legally.”
Child custody problems have become increasingly common among medical marijuana patients and advocates, due to the intolerance of state and local officials who think that marijuana use automatically makes one unfit to raise children. Recent victims include California mother Daisy Bram and outspoken Idaho activist Lindsey Rinehart.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 112 (PDF) is set for a final vote on the Idaho House floor. Already approved by the Senate, if passed it would officially proclaim that the current Idaho Legislature opposes marijuana legalization “for any purpose.” What a curious way to spend their time and residents' tax dollars considering a February 2011 poll found that nearly three quarters of Idahoans favor allowing “terminally and seriously ill patients to use and purchase marijuana for medical purposes.” Apparently, the author of the bill, Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise), thinks reform is a problem and he wants none of it in Idaho.
The good news is – even if passed – this resolution can’t stop the will of the people from prevailing. In fact, the group Compassionate Idaho has just released a new petition to place a medical marijuana initiative on the November 2014 ballot! If they gather enough signatures by April of next year, the voters will be able to teach their lawmakers a thing or two about compassion.