In a 42–28 vote, the Idaho House failed to garner the two-thirds majority necessary to forward constitutional amendment HJR 4 to the Senate for consideration, saving the right of Idahoans to run initiative petitions on the subject of legalizing drugs.
HJR 4 would have placed the illegality of Schedule I & II drugs, including marijuana, into the state constitution, where it would have been untouchable by citizen initiative.
During debate on the bill, many representatives made impassioned pleas in support of the bill, warning of the degradation that has befallen legal marijuana states, the devastation illegal drugs have wrought on friends and family, and the need to protect Idaho from big money out-of-state interests that want to legalize marijuana in Idaho for profit.
Opponents of the bill, which included more Republicans (16) than Democrats (12), responded with tales of friends and family responding positively to medical marijuana treatments elsewhere, worries that the bill would supersede the Right to Try law that allows terminal patients to use illegal drugs, and mentions of the bill’s true purpose in thwarting medical marijuana and CBD oil.
While the defeat of HJR 4 has saved the right to petition on marijuana policy, the ability to successfully exercise that right is still in danger. Soon, the House will vote on SB 1150, which would mandate that all petition signature gathering must take place on Idaho soil. This is clearly an attack on marijuana petitioning at the popular Oregon and Washington border town dispensaries where hundred of Idahoans a day visit to purchase legal marijuana that they then take home to smoke in Idaho.
Awaiting the governor’s signature or veto by Saturday morning at 11:10am is SB 1110, which would require all petitions to gather a 6% signature threshold in all 35 state legislative districts, a task so Herculean it may make any initiative impossible to quality without massive (out-of-state) funding.
In other marijuana legislation news, the House earlier passed HB 126, a bill that legalizes the farming, processing, and transporting of industrial hemp, so long as one possesses a license under the federal Farm Bill or a state plan that has yet to be developed. It most certainly does not legalize industrial hemp for the public. This was also a point of contention in debate over HJR 4: that its passage would make it far more difficult to finally make legal the less than 0.3% industrial hemp and CBD products that are legal in every other U.S. state.