Gov. Brad Little’s announcement of a 21-day shelter-in-place order and CDC recommendations for social distancing in effect for the month of April have caused the Idaho Cannabis Coalition to suspended our active campaign to gather signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act petition. As an all-volunteer effort, we were relying on every opportunity to gather the 55,057 statewide registered voters’ signatures needed by May 1 to qualify for the November ballot. With every major spring public event cancelled, we are now focusing on distributing petitions through online download at IdahoCann.co and encouraging every volunteer who has downloaded a petition to get them turned in to their county clerk’s office by mail, regardless of how many signatures they have collected.
Our campaign, along with two other initiative petitions this cycle, had implored the legislature and governor to extend the deadline for signature gathering, or to provide an electronic means of collecting signatures, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Our pleas fell on deaf ears; however, the legislature passed and the governor signed into law an electronic means to remove signatures from an initiative petition.
Since our campaign is so volunteer-driven, we can’t provide a verifiable estimate of signature collection so far. The realities of verifying signatures (many signers who say they are registered voters turn out not to be) and Idaho’s extra hurdle of requiring a threshold of six percent of registered voters from a majority (18 of 35) legislative districts mean the odds are against Idahoans being able to vote on medical marijuana in November of 2020.
We are excited to see our fellow activists in places like Mississippi and South Dakota qualifying medical marijuana initiatives for their elections. However, should South Dakota pass its medical marijuana initiative, we are saddened by the thought that Idaho could then become the last political jurisdiction in all of North America to criminalize the possession and use any amount of THC by patients for medical purposes.
Nevertheless, we will persist. If medical marijuana does not make the 2020 Idaho ballot, we will file immediately to begin the process of placing it on the 2022 ballot. The need for medical marijuana access for sick and disabled Idahoans is not going away, and neither are we.