Facts About Marijuana In Idaho

More Idahoans use marijuana and support its legalization than you might think. Learn about marijuana’s legal status in Idaho, support for medical marijuana in Idaho, and the popularity of adult-use marijuana as revealed by sales at marijuana shops just over our borders.

Information on this page is not offered as legal advice. Sentencing guidelines vary. Always consult with an attorney any time you are in question of the antiquated marijuana laws of Idaho. Updated May 10, 2021.

Quick Links to Marijuana Facts

Marijuana’s Legal Status

What a Difference a Decade Makes!

Move the slider left and right to see how the past decade of marijuana reform has left Idaho behind. Only most liberal policy shown, e.g. Oregon is a legal adult use, medical marijuana, and drug decrim state. Marijuana decrim states not outlined once they become legal adult use states.

Idaho is America’s Last Absolute Prohibition State

Idaho is the only state where possession of any cannabis — even non-drug industrial hemp — is a crime that can result in an immediate arrest.

Idaho is the only state whose governor has vetoed a law passed to allow non-psychoactive CBD oil as medicine for epileptic children.

See Footnotes [1] and [2].

The United States is Moving on Without Idaho

Only 9% of Americans Support Idaho’s Absolute Marijuana Prohibition

We’re closing in on ten years of state marijuana legalization and none of them seem to want to repeal it.

  • Marijuana legalization swept all 5 states[3] — “blue” and “red” — in the 2020 Election:
    • New Jersey (Legalization 1oz, no home grow) 67%.
    • Arizona (Legalization 1oz, home grow) 60%.
    • Montana (Legalization 1oz, home grow) 57%.
    • Mississippi (Medical 2.5oz, no home grow) 69%.
    • South Dakota (Medical 3oz, home grow) 70% and (Legalization 1oz, limited home grow) 54%
  • 68% of all Americans polled by Gallup[4] support marijuana legalization, including
    • 60% of those over age 50, 55% of those over age 65.
    • Nearly half of Republicans (48%), conservatives (49%), and weekly churchgoers (48%).
  • Congressional Democrats have already voted[5] to pass a bill (The MORE Act) to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, expunge past marijuana crimes, and establish a federal marijuana sales tax. It is expected to pass again in the House and likely the Senate in 2021.
  • President-elect Biden has vowed[6] to decriminalize marijuana possession.

The World is Moving on Without Idaho

  • The United Nations voted[7] to remove marijuana from its most restrictive schedule, thus recognizing its medical value.
  • Canada has legalized marijuana; Mexico is set to approve[8] recreational marijuana this month.

Idaho is Ready for Medical Marijuana

Every Demographic Supports Medical Marijuana… Except the Idaho Legislature

The more people learn about our medical marijuana proposal, the more they like it.

73% of Idahoans polled on the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act 2020 support medical marijuana, with 54% “Definitely yes,” and overall support improving to 78% once told more about the initiative, and to 81% for medical marijuana generally.

Idahoans of all demographics support medical marijuana, including Republicans (63%), members of the LDS Church (62%), and Idahoans over the age of 65 (64%).

  • Idahoans support medical marijuana for chronic pain (83%), dispensaries (79%), protection of parental, housing, and driving rights (76%), sales tax to cover regulatory costs (71%), sales tax to fund education and veterans services (64%), possession limits of 4oz (58%), and limiting home grow to those 50 miles from a dispensary (56%).
  • Idahoans oppose local options to ban medical marijuana (57%), home grow for all patients (54%), and are ambivalent on per capita restrictions (5:20,000) on retail marijuana shops and grows (49% support, 37% oppose, 14% don’t know).

See Footnote [9]

Proximity to Legal Marijuana

Idaho Cannot Repeal the Law of Supply & Demand

It doesn’t matter how illegal marijuana is in Idaho when it is for sale over-the-counter just over the border.

50% of Idaho’s population now lives within one-hour drive of a legal marijuana shop (80% are within a two-hour drive).

  • Enforcement is haphazard throughout the state. For example, in Ada County, officers in Boise are half as likely[10] as officers in Meridian to arrest, rather than cite and summons, an adult possessing marijuana.


Idaho’s $159,000,000 Gift to the City of Ontario

Idahoans buy almost all of the $9.5 million sold every month on average in Ontario… then they bring it back to Idaho to smoke. If Idaho’s going to have the smoking, why not have the taxes, too?

Shops in Ontario (Malheur County), Oregon, serving the Boise/Payette metros, have almost tripled their sales in the past 1½ years (Aug 2019 = $2.6M, Jan 2021 = $9.5M).

See Footnote [11]

Idahoans send their marijuana tax money to Oregon and Washington and bring back their marijuana smoking to Idaho.


  • Shops in Spokane, Pullman, and Clarkston, Washington, have been serving Northern Idaho for over five years.
  • The 3 Idaho border counties sold on average $12.2M per month in FY 2020[12].


  • A shop has been approved[13] in Jackpot, Nevada, to serve the Twin Falls metro.


  • Legalization passing in Montana means freeway access to Missoula for Idaho’s mountain counties, to Monida for the Interstate 15 corridor leading from Pocatello and Idaho Falls, and to West Yellowstone for the Wyoming border counties.


  • Utah passed a medical marijuana law in 2018. Industrial hemp is legal.


  • Wyoming allows low-THC CBD oil to be used as medicine. Industrial hemp is legal.


  • Recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and industrial hemp are all legal in Canada.

Talking Points

Marijuana Prohibition Costs Idaho Taxpayers

Just 1 in 20 marijuana arrests in Idaho in 2018 were for buying, selling, or cultivating marijuana. [ISP]

See Footnote [14]

Idaho State Police, Idaho Drug and Alcohol Arrest Trends, 2009–2018, accessed April 13, 2021 (“Selected County” is Ada County, the most populous)
  • There were 7,695 arrests for marijuana in Idaho in 2018, a rate of 4.38 arrests per 1,000 residents. The rate was 2.62 per 1,000 just ten years prior.
  • 45% of all Idaho marijuana arrests in 2018[15] resulted in the suspect being taken to jail, 55% resulted in a summons.
Ada County (“Selected County”) is more likely to physically arrest you for marijuana than the state on average.
  • Over half (52%) of all drug arrests[16] in Idaho in 2018 were for marijuana.
  • Enforcing criminal prohibition cost Idaho police $4,390 per arrest between 2001–2010[17].
    • In 2010[18], marijuana enforcement racked up Idaho police costs of $5,520,933, Idaho court costs of $4,861,350, and Idaho prison costs of $1,502,169.
    • Idaho arrested 4,129 people for marijuana in 2016[19].
  • Imprisoning people for marijuana costs Idaho $27,134.10 per prisoner per year[20].
  • Every marijuana arrest consumes around 2.5 hours of a police officer’s time[21].

Marijuana Prohibition Is Not Stopping Idaho Marijuana Consumers

Since Washington first legalized marijuana in 2012, the rate of marijuana use among adults has gone up faster in Idaho than Oregon or Washington.

8.89% of Idaho adults (18+) use marijuana monthly (~113,000 Idahoans) and 14.27% use annually (~187,000).

See Footnote [22]

Substance Abuse Mental Health Data Archive, Interactive NSDUH State Estimates, accessed April 13, 2021
  • Only 22.74% of Idaho adults (18+) consider[23] monthly marijuana smoking to be a “great risk.”
  • Idaho police seized 2,476 pounds of marijuana and 252 cannabis plants in 2014[24].

Idaho can’t stop adults from crossing the border to buy legal marijuana to take home, then Idaho loses all the marijuana tax revenue it could use to deal with any marijuana problems, then Idaho spends more tax dollars futilely trying to stop those adults.

Legalization Has Not Increased Teen Marijuana Use or Teen Marijuana Disorders

Since Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, use by teens has stayed relatively steady in Oregon and Washington, but it’s increased almost 12 percent in Idaho.
  • Legalization of marijuana for adults was associated with an 8% decline in past 30-day marijuana use and a 9% decline in frequent use among teens[25].
  • Past-year prevalence of marijuana use disorders among US adolescents declined by an estimated 24% from 2002–2013[26].
  • States with marijuana legalization saw their teenage marijuana rehab admissions drop by almost half from 2008–2017[27].

Legalization Has Not Decreased Traffic Safety

Despite legalizing medical marijuana in 1998 and adult-use marijuana in 2012/2014, Oregon and Washington have been safer states in which to drive than Idaho.

Idaho—not Oregon or Washington—has been the state with the greatest traffic fatality rate in the Pacific Northwest.

See Footnote [28]

  • Scare statistics about THC found in the blood of fatality drivers in legal states ignore the fact that such detection does not prove any impairment[29]—merely that the driver had used cannabis sometime in the past.
  • Scare statistics from IIHS[30] about crashes in legal states compare apples and oranges—legal states that have cities like Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, and Denver (all over 650,000 pop.) vs. illegal states that have towns like Boise, Missoula, Salt Lake, and Cheyenne (all under 250,000).
  • The Food & Drug Administration acknowledges that regular consumers of synthetic THC[31]—a more impairing substance than natural cannabis THC—can develop enough tolerance to its impairing effects to safely drive and operate heavy machinery.

IdahoCann Merch Shop


[1] 18 states have legalized adult-use marijuana (https://norml.org/laws/legalization/), those states plus 18 more (36) have legalized medical marijuana (https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/legal-medical-marijuana-states-and-dc/), and all but Idaho have legalized medical CBD oil (https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/states-with-legal-cannabidiol-cbd/) and industrial hemp (https://www.votehemp.com/resources/state-hemp-law/).

[2] Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter Veto Statement of S1146a, April 16, 2015: “[The CBD bill] asks us to look past the potential for misuse and abuse with criminal intent. … This bill has the potential to exacerbate problems health problems of the critically ill and decrease public safety.”

[3] “Marijuana on the Ballot,” Ballotpedia (https://ballotpedia.org/Marijuana_on_the_ballot#By_year)

[4] “Support for Legal Marijuana Inches Up to New High of 68%,” Gallup (https://news.gallup.com/poll/323582/support-legal-marijuana-inches-new-high.aspx)

[5] “Congress Set To A Vote On MORE Act The First Week Of December,” Forbes 11/30/2020 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/nikkifrias/2020/11/30/congress-set-to-a-vote-on-more-act-the-first-week-of-december/?sh=24e1884c3fdb)

[6] “Biden-Harris pledge to decriminalize marijuana,” Sinclair Broadcast Group 9/17/2020 (https://wjla.com/news/nation-world/cannabis-in-the-presidential-race-biden-harris-pledge-to-decriminalize-marijuana)

[7] “U.N. Reclassifies Cannabis as a Less Dangerous Drug,” New York Times 12/2/2020 (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/world/europe/cannabis-united-nations-drug-policy.html)

[8] “Vote in Mexico brings world’s largest legal weed market one step closer,” Reuters 11/19/2020 (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-cannabis-vote/vote-in-mexico-brings-worlds-largest-legal-weed-market-one-step-closer-idUSKBN27Z3BK)

[9] FM3 Research Poll conducted May 2019

[10] “Using pot in Meridian? Compared to Boise, officers are twice as likely to take you to jail,” Idaho Statesman 2/2/2020 (https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/crime/article239237443.html)

[11] Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Recreational Marijuana Market Data (https://data.olcc.state.or.us/t/OLCCPublic/views/MarketDataTableau/CountyMap)

[12] “FY 20 MJ Sales Excise Tax by County,” Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (https://lcb.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Marijuana/sales_activity/FY20-MJ-Sales-Excise-Tax-by-County.xlsx)

[13] “Jackpot site may be rezoned for cannabis sales,” Magic Valley News, 11/18/2020 (https://magicvalley.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/jackpot-site-may-be-rezoned-for-cannabis-sales/article_cde0b68a-e96a-5a12-b66a-3f344d9a5ef2.html).

[14] “Idaho Drug and Alcohol Offenses and Arrests 2009–2018,” Idaho Statistical Analysis Center, Idaho State Police (https://isp.idaho.gov/pgr/sac/drug-crime-data/)

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” American Civil Liberties Union (https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/1114413-mj-report-rfs-rel1.pdf#77)

[18] Ibid.

[19] Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program (https://norml.org/marijuana/library/state-marijuana-arrests/idaho-marijuana-arrests/)

[20] Idaho Department of Corrections, Frequently Asked Questions (https://www.idoc.idaho.gov/content/prisons/faq)

[21] “One Million Police Hours: Making 440,000 Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York City, 2002-2012,” Harry Levine, Loren Siegel, and Gabriel Sayegh (https://drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/One_Million_Police_Hours.pdf)

[22] “Interactive NSDUH State Estimates,” National Survey on Drug Use & Health 2018–2019 (https://pdas.samhsa.gov/saes/state). While our proposal would be for age 21 and older, NSDUH data is categorized by age 18 and older.

[23] Ibid.

[24] “Idaho Drug and Alcohol Offenses and Arrests 2007–2014,” Idaho Statistical Analysis Center, Idaho State Police (https://isp.idaho.gov/pgr/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2019/12/Drug-Trends-2007-2014.pdf)

[25] “Association of Marijuana Laws With Teen Marijuana Use New Estimates From the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys,” Journal of the American Medical Association, July 2019 (https://www.mpp.org/issues/legalization/teen-marijuana-use-does-not-increase/)

[26] “Declining Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders Among Adolescents in the United States, 2002 to 2013.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 55, no. 6, 2016 (https://www.mpp.org/issues/legalization/teen-marijuana-use-does-not-increase/)

[27] “Trends in Adolescent Treatment Admissions for Marijuana in the United States, 2008–2017,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2020/20_0156.htm)

[28] “Fatality Analysis Reporting System,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 1994–2018 (https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesFatalitiesFatalityRates.aspx)

[29] Toennes et al. 2008. Comparison of cannabinoid pharmacokinetic properties in occasional and heavy users smoking a marijuana or placebo joint. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 32: 470-477. “Heavy users might exhibit measurable cannabinoid concentrations in blood, even if the last cannabis use was more than 24 hours ago. This is due to redistribution from deep compartments and to the prolonged elimination of THC.”

[30] “Crashes rise in first states to begin legalized retail sales of recreational marijuana,” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (https://www.iihs.org/news/detail/crashes-rise-in-first-states-to-begin-legalized-retail-sales-of-recreational-marijuana)

[31] “MARINOL (dronabinol) Capsules Warnings,” Food & Drug Administration, “Patients receiving treatment with MARINOL® Capsules should be specifically warned not to drive, operate machinery, or engage in any hazardous activity until it is established that they are able to tolerate the drug and to perform such tasks safely.” (https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2005/018651s021lbl.pdf)