We are a grassroots coalition of Idaho citizens dedicated to reforming Idaho’s antiquated marijuana laws.

Whether it is as little effort as emailing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and sharing our content on social media, or as much as effort volunteering your time and donating your money, everybody can help.

What We Believe

We believe in the liberty of Idaho citizens to use the cannabis plant as God and nature intended—for food, fuel, fiber, and medicine—free from government tyranny that maintains criminal marijuana prohibition in defiance of the people’s will.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is the use of the cannabis plant by sick and disabled patients under a doctor’s recommendation to treat a qualifying condition.

In order to effectively serve patient needs, a medical marijuana program must include the following provisions:

Coverage for Standard Conditions: Thirty-six other medical marijuana states have set a common standard of at least ten conditions that should qualify for medical marijuana: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cachexia, seizures (such as epilepsy), spasms (such as multiple sclerosis), chronic pain (such as neuropathy), chronic nausea, hospice care, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Protection from Prosecution: A medical marijuana patient must be safe from tickets, arrests, search, and seizure for possession of medical marijuana without burdensome overregulation.

Protection from Persecution: A medical marijuana patient must be secure in their housing, employment, child custody, educational, medical procedure (like organ transplants), and firearms rights

Full Range of Dosing Options: A medical marijuana patient must be able to utilize any form of medical marijuana, including the raw, unprocessed flower, in any method, including smoking, that their doctor deems reasonable.

Easy, Affordable Access: A medical marijuana patient must have reasonably priced retail options for purchasing medical marijuana or be provided a secure, regulated method by which they may cultivate their own cannabis plants.

Reciprocity: A cardholding medical marijuana patient from another state must be provided the same protections and privileges as our in-state patients.

The proposed Idaho Medical Marijuana Act initiative has benefitted from the lessons of 35 other state medical marijuana programs and would fulfill all these priorities and we support it wholeheartedly.

Industrial Hemp

Industrial hemp is the use of cannabis plants that consist of less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight (THC is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the molecule in cannabis that creates a euphoric feeling).

Such cannabis plants were grown by our Founding Fathers and farmers long before them. The long fibers and sturdy stalks made for excellent building materials. The hemp canvas and rope that outfitted pre-Colonial warships were superior fibers, prized for their resistance to mildew and rot. New hemp plantations for the British Navy were a major factor forming the colonies of the United States.

Hemp is also vital to the culture of the intermountain West. Pioneers making their homes in Idaho traversed the Oregon Trail in wagons covered in hemp canvas, lighting their way with lamps fueled by hemp oil.

Today, hemp is a multi-billion dollar crop worldwide. In 2018, President Trump signed the US Farm Bill that contained provisions from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell that legalized industrial hemp in the United States. In the following years, the few remaining states that had still banned hemp updated their laws to match the federal law.

But not Idaho. Idaho stands alone as literally the only political jurisdiction in North America that maintains an criminal penalty for the possession or cultivation of industrial hemp without a license. Learn more about hemp in the United States at Vote Hemp.

Idaho’s legislators finally relented to the pressure from farmers desperate to grow this cash crop. This year, legislators passed HB 126, which only allows for cultivation, transport, and processing of industrial hemp with a license. It specifically ensures that possession of hemp without a license is still treated like marijuana possession—a crime.

Full Spectrum CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another one of the many components of the cannabis plant prized for its medical utility. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any euphoric effects. It does, however, have a wide range of effects that are beneficial for people battling pain, seizures, insomnia, anxiety, and a host of other conditions.

Every state in the United States allows for the use of so-called “full spectrum” CBD products that are derived from hemp and can contain less than 0.3 percent THC (the national standard set in the 2018 Farm Bill) and are legal everywhere—except Idaho. Some states have their own laws that increase the levels of THC allowed for medical uses and, of course, the medical marijuana states allow patients to use CBD oils with any level of THC in them.

CBD products sold in Idaho—and only Idaho—must contain 0.0 percent THC. If any amount of THC is detected, that product is by law “marijuana” and your possession of it in Idaho is a crime worthy of an arrest, a fine, and possible jail time. Cultivation of even a single “marijuana” plant is a felony and you will face serious jail time, even if that’s a hemp plant with no euphoric effects.

In 2015, motivated by testimony of parents who’ve seen the miracle of CBD oil work for their children’s seizures and the pressure Utah and seventeen conservative states passing similar laws, the legislature passed a law to allow low-THC CBD oil for medical use.

Then-Governor Butch Otter then became the only governor in the nation to have ever vetoed a CBD bill, explaining that it could “decrease public safety” to let parents treat epileptic kids with a hemp oil low in THC.

We will fully support any legislation that provides access to full-spectrum CBD oil by updating Idaho law to match the 2018 Federal Farm Bill.

Adult-Use Marijuana

We believe that no Idahoan is a criminal for what they choose to do to themselves. Marijuana is safer than most over-the-counter medications and should be treated as such.

Idaho still treats the possession of any amount of marijuana, even a first offense by a medical user, as a crime worthy of arrest and imprisonment.

As our neighboring states have legalized the adult use of marijuana, and as the federal government stands poised to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list via The MORE Act, Idaho is increasingly behind the times and losing out on the benefits of taxing marijuana sales to remediate problems with substance abuse.

This position is untenable. Continuing to arrest adult marijuana users is not stopping them, as the $14 million monthly marijuana sales on the Idaho border are showing. Idahoans buy marijuana out-of-state legally or in-state illegally, the other states and the black market reap the benefits, and Idaho spends even more tax dollars in a futile attempt to stop them.

We believe, at minimum, Idaho should decriminalize the personal possession of marijuana for a first offense, with no arrest possible and only a civil infraction fine, as is the case in most states. Further decriminalization of any offense for possession is preferable, to remove the burden from our state crime labs, county jails, city courts, and police officers wasting time prosecuting adults (and often, patients) crossing the border to acquire legal marijuana products.

The optimal policy for Idaho would be the legalization of the adult possession and cultivation of personal amounts of marijuana, with a system of regulated producers, processors, testers, and stores for commercial marijuana sales to adults. With now eighteen legal marijuana states, Idaho needn’t look west for how to proceed. States to our east, like Montana and South Dakota, are much more like Idaho and present a more conservative approach to legalization than Oregon and Washington.

Our Spokesperson

Russ Belville

Russ Belville, Spokesperson for the Idaho Citizens Coalition.
Russ Belville is a veteran of marijuana policy journalism and advocacy. He has worked with the national non-profit NORML and been a leader in Oregon NORML, the state affiliate. Russ’s analysis of marijuana politics and drug war data have been published online and in print over a thousand times. He was a pioneer in the field of marijuana podcasting and has livestreamed from the campaigns of marijuana legalization initiatives since 2010. Russ first consumed cannabis in McCall, Idaho in 1990 and has been a consumer ever since. He believes strongly that marijuana consumers should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as beer drinkers and cigar smokers. As a native Idahoan, former Idaho National Guardsman, and alumni of Boise State University, Russ simply wishes to live in the state his entire family has lived and died in without fear of arrest.

Lori Duckworth

Medical Marijuana Consultant

Lori Duckworth — Medical Marijuana Consultant for the Idaho Citizens Coalition
Lori Duckworth is a retired hospice nurse and medical marijuana patient who beat cancer and currently treats chronic pain and PTSD with cannabis. She has been a medical marijuana patient since 1998. Lori has served on the board of Compassionate Oregon, the state’s leading medical marijuana policy organization, and helped to shape many of the protections for medical marijuana patients in the state. She is also a registered medical marijuana grower and caregiver for patients and manager of a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. Lori’s knowledge of health care from patient and caregiver perspective combined with her knowledge of every aspect of cannabis production and distribution inform every aspect of our lobbying.

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