Idaho Activists File Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative

This afternoon, The Idaho Citizens Coalition turned in the initial twenty signatures of registered Idaho voters to begin the process of placing a marijuana decriminalization measure on the November 2022 ballot.

The Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act (PAMDA) if passed would only protect adults 21 and older from search, seizure, and arrest for the possession and use of up to three ounces of marijuana on private property with permission of the owner. PAMDA would also protect adults while transporting the marijuana they have purchased legally out-of-state from the store to their private property.

Outside the scope of personal use of private property, marijuana possession will still be treated as a criminal misdemeanor. So, for instance, someone who purchases marijuana in Ontario, Oregon, or Spokane, Washington, and then drives it back to their home in Boise or Coeur d’Alene would be safe from law enforcement, but if that person was caught with that marijuana in public, it would still be a crime.

“What we intend to do with PAMDA is to ‘legalize the drive,'” said Russ Belville, spokesman for the Idaho Citizens Coalition and Chief Petitioner of the measure. “Everyone knows Idahoans are driving across the border and bringing back home with them about $10 million worth of marijuana a month from legal stores. Every purchase in Oregon or Washington is a purchase not made from illegal marijuana dealers in Idaho and we should incentivize that, not penalize that.”

PAMDA creates no pot shops in Idaho, creates no marijuana grows in Idaho, and establishes no new bureaucracy in Idaho. “From our polling on medical marijuana, we found the people of Idaho are wary of home cannabis gardens and the corrupting influence of big marijuana businesses,” Belville explained. “But we’ve also found that Idahoans are huge supporters of personal privacy and keeping the government out of people’s personal lives. We feel PAMDA strikes the right balance by keeping marijuana grows, stores, dealing, and advertising illegal, while respecting the privacy of Idaho adults who simply prefer a joint over a beer when they want to relax at home.”

PAMDA is also meant to act as a backup for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act (IMMA) that is currently circulating. IMMA would legalize medical marijuana possession of four ounces, allow certain patients with hardships to cultivate six cannabis plants, and establish a system of commercial grows, processors, and dispensaries, similar to most medical marijuana states.

“We are still wholeheartedly in support of medical marijuana for Idaho,” said Belville, “and will be collecting signatures for both initiatives in the field.”

But the IMMA faces a potential roadblock in the form of a new ‘single subject rule’ the Idaho Legislature established for initiatives in 2020. A similar rule in Nebraska caused their state Supreme Court to remove their medical marijuana initiative that had already made the ballot. The Court decided that allowing patients to have medical marijuana and giving patients a place to buy medical marijuana were two separate subjects.

“We’re worried about the ‘single subject rule’ invalidating the IMMA, since it, like Nebraska’s 2020 initiative, provides medical marijuana possession and medical marijuana commerce,” said Belville. “Should someone sue and Idaho’s Supreme Court make a similar decision, we’ll have PAMDA ready to go, which is clearly a single subject initiative.”

But PAMDA starts with a hurdle that IMMA doesn’t have to face—statewide approval. In April, the Idaho Legislature passed a new law requiring initiatives to gather signatures equaling six percent of the registered voters in each of all thirty-five state legislative districts, a Herculean task. By contrast, IMMA was filed in February, so it still must comport with the previous law requiring six percent in just eighteen of thirty-five districts.

“I won’t lie; the 35-district rule will make it all but impossible to place PAMDA on the ballot,” Belville opined. “However, the state is being sued over that rule by Reclaim Idaho, the group that placed and passed the only successful initiative since the 18-district rule was implemented. Should their suit succeed, we’d be subject to either the previous 18-district rule or, if we’re lucky, the court invalidates all district requirements and returns Idaho to the original standard of six percent statewide, regardless of district. In either of those cases, we feel our chances of making the ballot with PAMDA are solid.”

PAMDA and IMMA will both need to collect 64,946 signatures and meet their legislative district thresholds by May 1, 2022, to make the ballot. Learn more about the PAMDA initiative here.

Ontario Marijuana Sales Decline for 2nd Straight Month

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?

Data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission shows that legal marijuana shops in Ontario, Oregon, sold $9.6 million of marijuana products to adults in the month of May 2021.

That represents the second straight month of decline following the record $10.4 million sales in Malheur County in the month of March.

Within Malheur County, only Ontario allows for marijuana sales. But that may be changing next year. Activists with Legalize Malheur have submitted an initiative to end the sales ban in the unincorporated areas of Malheur County.

If approved, the Legalize Malheur initiative would appear on the November 2022 ballot and open up the opportunity to place a marijuana shop across the border from Weiser, Idaho, in an unincorporated village called Annex, as well as the outskirts of Ontario’s east side on Highway 201.

Another Oregon border town, Nyssa, is an incorporated community. Its ban on marijuana sales would remain regardless of the passage of the Legalize Malheur initiative. However, those activists are also considering a Legalize Nyssa initiative, which would bring marijuana shops that much closer to the towns in southwest Canyon County.

It’s well known that the bulk of marijuana purchases in Ontario are made by Idahoans. During our signature collection for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act at one of Ontario’s shops, we saw Idahoans from at least sixteen different counties, even as far away as Jefferson County, a five hour one-way drive.

With Oregon’s twenty percent tax on marijuana sales, in 2021 alone Idahoans have contributed the bulk of $9.5 million in tax revenue to the Beaver State, with $1.4 million going directly to the city of Ontario. How much longer will Idaho continue to pour tax revenue into other states?

Idaho Farm Bureau Predicts Hemp Crops by 2022 Planting Season

Hemp Field

The Idaho Legislature passed and Governor Little signed into law HB 126, the bill that ends Idaho’s status as the last political jurisdiction in all North America to forbid all cultivation of industrial hemp. Now the Idaho Farm Bureau is laying out the schedule it believes will lead to the first legal hemp crops in Idaho since 1936.

House Bill 126 directs the ISDA to begin formulating a state hemp plan through the state’s negotiated rulemaking process, which allows anyone interested in participating to do so.

The state ag department immediately began planning for that process after the governor signed the bill into law. To find out more information about how to participate in the hemp rulemaking process, visit the ISDA website – – and click on the hemp link on the left side of the page.

The first rulemaking meeting is June 23 and the second is June 30. Details on how to participate can be found on the ISDA’s hemp webpage.

After receiving public input, the ISDA will put together a state hemp plan that follows federal guidelines for industrial hemp. That plan needs to be approved by the governor and the director of the Idaho State Police.

Idaho’s hemp plan needs to be wrapped up and submitted to USDA by Sept. 1. The plan will also need to be approved by state lawmakers during the 2022 legislative session, which begins next January.

Remember, HB 126 did not legalize hemp. It legalized hemp with a license, and those licenses aren’t coming until next year. Anything you possess with THC in it—even hemp with <0.3% THC—is still marijuana in Idaho if you don’t have a license for it.

Over 200 Signatures for Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative Collected in Ontario, Oregon in May

In its first two weeks of operation, The Lodge/Crane Idaho Marijuana Petitioning Station has collected over 200 signatures from registered Idaho voters for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act initiative petition.

The Station is located in the lobby of the Treasure Valley Cannabis Company at 560 SE 12th Ave in Ontario, Oregon. It is named for Idaho State Senator Patti Anne Lodge, who introduced SB 1150, a bill to make out-of-state signature gathering illegal, and State Representative Brent Crane, who amended SB 1150 to make an exception for missionaries and the military.

The over two hundred Idahoans who have signed in Oregon are voters who may never have been reached by the Kind Idaho campaign to put IMMA on the ballot. That Idaho’s Senate and House both voted to disenfranchise them, only to be saved by Gov. Little’s veto, is inexcusable, but unsurprising for a body so reefer mad it voted to enshrine marijuana prohibition in the state constitution, barely failing to reach a needed two-thirds majority in the House.

These voters also show just how much Idahoans want to obey the law when it comes to marijuana. Those over 200 Idahoans come from over one-third of Idaho’s counties. Some people signing have driven from three to five hours one way to get to Ontario to purchase marijuana legally and sign the petition. It’s not as if there are no black market marijuana dealers in these counties, but Idahoans are willing to spend the money and time to drive across the state to shop in a safe, secure location; where IDs are strictly checked and no minors allowed; where there is a greater variety of products for sale and they are tested and labeled; even if they have to face a harrowing drive back home in fear of the police pulling them over.

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?

Those 200 voters are quite willing to spend one out of five of their dollars in Ontario to benefit the city and the state in the form of marijuana taxes. The nine shops in Ontario are selling $10 million of marijuana products every month. That’s $2 million every month that mostly Idahoans are contributing in tax revenue to Ontario and Oregon when they buy marijuana.

They’re not smoking that marijuana in Oregon, though. Idaho gets all the marijuana smoking and Oregon gets all the marijuana taxes. Then Idaho spends tax money arresting and jailing the few people they catch (a year’s worth of pot arrests equals about a week’s worth of Ontario shoppers), doing absolutely nothing to reduce the trafficking of legal marijuana from Oregon (sales have increased quarterly since July 2019).

The Lodge/Crane Station will continue operating at the Treasure Valley Cannabis Company all summer long. As we get more volunteers to man the station (sign up here), we’ll be able to expand the days and hours to collect more signatures. For now, the usual days will be Wednesday through Saturday, 2pm to 6pm, but check the Events on our Facebook page to be certain.

The Lodge/Crane Idaho Marijuana Petition Station

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Signature tally from this one station as of June 12, 2021.

Two-Thirds of Utahns Support Marijuana Legalization

red rocks
Photo by Chris Janda on

Well, it’s happened. They went and legalized medical marijuana in Utah in 2018 and now, two out of three residents of the Beehive State want to legalize marijuana for everyone.

According to new polling released Tuesday by the U.S. Cannabis Council, 66 percent of Utahns surveyed “support federal cannabis legalization generally.” Support was higher among voters surveyed in West Virginia (70 percent) and Arizona (72 percent), two more traditionally conservative states.

It’s becoming difficult to find anyone anywhere who supports continuing adult marijuana prohibition. Recent surveys by Pew Research show only 8 percent of Americans support an absolute marijuana prohibition like Idaho’s. According to Quinnipiac University, even people over age 65, the last holdouts against legalization, now support it by 51 percent.

One would think that the devastating effects of legalizing medical marijuana predicted by people like Idaho State Sen. C. Scott Grow would manifest in the people of Utah rejecting calls for marijuana legalization. Yet, in state after state, both red and blue, voters and legislatures are legalizing medical marijuana and then going on to legalize recreational marijuana.

That’s because the predictions never pan out. Medical marijuana gets legalized and the state goes on. Businesses and jobs get created and patients begin shopping and growing. States make money on taxes, licenses, and fees. Nothing else changes much.

Some of those states then realize that nothing else would change much if they just expanded “medical” to mean “everybody” and dispense with the cards and conditions, aside from raising even more revenue and creating more jobs and businesses.

Idaho Taxpayers Get to Pay High-Priced Lawyers to Defend Taking Away Their Initiative Rights

Photo by John Guccione on

A stunning bit of reporting from Betsy Russell in the Idaho Press illustrates the asymmetric nature of the War on Drugs. The legislature gets paid by us Idaho taxpayers to write a bill, SB 1110, that virtually eliminates our right to propose initiatives and referenda.

In response, the people (in the form of Reclaim Idaho and the Committee to Protect and Defend the Idaho Constitution), then have to raise the money to sue the state of Idaho for infringing on our constitutional rights.

The State of Idaho gets to defend itself against the lawsuit through the Office of Attorney General, also paid for by taxpayers’ dollars. That we’re on the hook for attorney rates that range from $57.88 to $88.00 per hour to defend a law that takes away our rights is one thing to accept.

But what if on top of that, we had to pay another set of private attorneys $470 per hour to defend the same case?

At the request of legislative leaders, the Idaho Supreme Court has agreed to allow the Legislature to intervene as a party in two lawsuits challenging a restrictive new voter initiative law, which means the taxpayers will pay for two separate legal teams to defend the same law in each case.

The state is represented by the Idaho Attorney General’s office, which is defending the newly signed law, SB 1110. Now, the Legislature also is represented by its private attorneys, led by William G. Myers III of the firm Holland & Hart.

State lawmakers this year approved an additional $4 million in taxpayer funding for the Legislative Legal Defense Fund, which is split between the House and Senate and in which the House portion this year had dropped to a zero balance. Myers has been representing the Legislature in numerous matters; according to public records obtained by the Idaho Press, the Legislature has been paying him an hourly rate of $470.

Must be nice to be able to use the people’s own money to take rights from the people, who then have to spend more money to sue for their rights, then you can use more of their money to defend taking their rights and then use much more of their money to defend taking their rights.

This is why we reject every prohibitionist who wails about how much money we raise in state legalization campaigns, complaining that their anti-marijuana campaigns get outspent. They always forget about the limitless resources the state has to enforce prohibition and pass laws.

A Tragic DUI Crash Death Doesn’t Mean We Should Ban Alcohol or Marijuana

There was a terrible story that happened Wednesday involving a semi-truck driver whose breath tested at 2¾ times the legal limit of 0.08 BAC.

A 22-year-old Meridian man died after a semi truck hit his vehicle at the intersection of state Highway 55 and State Street on Wednesday night, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

The driver of the semi truck, 32-year-old Cecilio Eliut Camacho-Montoya, of Arizona, has been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and aggravated driving under the influence.

Camacho-Montoya failed field sobriety tests and registered a .22 blood alcohol content level, which the Sheriff’s Office said was over the legal blood alcohol content level of .04 for anyone with a valid commercial driver’s license, as well as over the legal blood alcohol content level of .08 for regular drivers in Idaho.

This is a senseless, tragic loss of life. And yet, we are hearing no calls to criminally prohibit alcohol in Idaho from groups like Drug Free Idaho or the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.

“The Governor’s Office of Drug Policy opposes legalization of marijuana,” and part of the reason they support keeping marijuana criminally prohibited is that “impaired driving has increased.”

The (Drunk) 800lb Gorilla in the Room

Whenever there is a horrific traffic accident with any direct or indirect correlation to the driver’s marijuana use, prohibitionists leap into action, pushing propaganda that forecasts a world of stoned mayhem on the freeways if we were to legalize marijuana.

Yet every year these same groups are relatively quiet on the subject of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, which are seemingly an acceptable risk for the freedom to drink as much alcohol of any potency at any time almost anywhere an adult chooses.

Oh, there will be calls of “don’t drink and drive” and “drink responsibly” and “friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” But never will you hear any of these groups calling on adults to “just say no.” Never is there a call to reduce one’s drinking—hell, drink a case of beer if you like, just be responsible. And never, ever is there even a hint of refusing employment to people who drink alcohol and arresting them if you catch them in possession of booze.

In fact, on the Idaho Office of Drug Policy’s website, alcohol use by adults isn’t even an “issue” they are concerned with.

We’re worried about underaged drinking, but if you’re 21, it doesn’t concern us.

It’s not that they aren’t aware of facts about alcohol’s devastation to Idaho. For instance, ODP’s Idaho Alcohol Use Fact Sheet explains how alcohol used killed 437 people and cost the state $1.1 billion. ODP’s Idaho Impaired Driving Fact Sheet tells us that 612 people were killed by drunk drivers in a decade, and that Idahoans drive drunk more than the national average. ODP’s Idaho Alcohol Induced Death Fact Sheet tells us that Idahoans are more likely to die from booze than the national average. They’re just not an “issue.”

Why Should We Add Another Drug to the Menu?

When faced with the obvious hypocrisy of giving a pass to a deadly, dangerous drug like alcohol while persecuting a relatively harmless, non-toxic herb like marijuana, prohibitionists often respond with a complaint that alcohol is already causing enough damage to society, so why would we want to compound that by adding marijuana to the menu?

It’s a stunning tell, actually. That statement tacitly admits that they know they are either powerless to prohibit alcohol or they realize prohibiting would cause greater harm. In their world, alcohol is too big to prohibit, culturally, economically, and politically, so they have to pick on a drug they can prohibit.

What they fail to realize is, first of all, marijuana is already on the menu. It’s the third most popular drug in America. Whether it is legal or not, people are using it and generating whatever negligible harm may come of that.

Second, all drugs aren’t created equal. Prohibs can’t recognize that the impairing effects of marijuana are slight and do not increase bravado. People who are too stoned to drive, unlike drunks, don’t think they are capable of driving. Also unlike alcohol, marijuana doesn’t impair in a dose-to-weight-dependent ratio. In fact, alcohol is one of the few drugs where you can guarantee a certain amount of it in the bloodstream of someone of a certain weight will be impairing. In marijuana’s case, frequent users can develop a tolerance and be able to drive safely at levels that would seriously impair a novice toker.

The Legendary All-Day Addy!

That’s not just conjecture; it’s something the federal government already agrees with. The synthetic THC pill MARINOL has been approved as medicine by the federal government since the 1980s. It was even reduced from being a Schedule II drug, a dangerous substance subject to serious restrictions, to a Schedule III drug, because it was found to be so safe to use. And on the warning label for that MARINOL pill is the warning, “do not drive, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how MARINOL affects you.” In other words, once you do know how MARINOL affects you, feel free to drive if you’re not impaired.

From the U.S. Food & Drug Administration

The prohibitionists will trot out all manner of statistics to scare people about marijuana and driving.

  • They’ll point to how there are more drivers in fatal accidents that have marijuana in their system since its legalization—which is no more telling than noting how there are more drivers in fatal accidents who are in same-sex marriages since their legalization.
  • They’ll point to studies showing more auto insurance collision claims in legalized states than non-legalized ones—ignoring how legalized states have sprawling urban metroplexes and the states they compared them to have more cows than people.
  • They’ll point to research showing that drivers with THC in their systems are twice as likely to get into a fatal crash—failing to control for age and gender, which finds that young males are the riskiest drivers and, it just so happens, are also the people most likely to smoke marijuana most often.

The facts are these: if marijuana were any serious crash risk, we would have seen the results of that risk by now. In the 1960s, there were less than one million people smoking mild potency marijuana. By 2020, there are 28 million people smoking far more potent marijuana. And yet, traffic fatalities are far lower than they have been in decades past. Much of that owes to safer cars and better policies, sure, but marijuana doesn’t seem to be changing that trajectory at all.

Why can’t the people who accept the serious traffic risk of alcohol find a way to accept the negligible traffic risk of marijuana? For many, access to legal marijuana reduces their use of alcohol. We could be trading the danger of red-light running drunk drivers for stoned drivers who wait for stop signs to turn green and save a lot of Idaho lives in the process.

Pot Shops Possible on Idaho’s Eastern Border by January 1, 2022

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.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed HB 701, a bill that implements the voter-approved Initiative 190 that legalized marijuana for adults. Within that bill is the effective date of January 1, 2022, for adult recreational sales.

That means there will soon be legal marijuana shops accessible to most of Idaho’s eastern border with Montana. But there’s a catch. HB 701 created a situation similar to how marijuana sales rolled out in Oregon. The legislatures of both states wrote laws that allow the counties that voted against the legalization initiative to have automatic bans on marijuana sales.

Initiative 190 results by county, lighter color shows where marijuana sales will be legal as of January 1, 2022.

There are a few routes eastbound from Idaho into Montana that are perfect for an entrepreneur looking to set up a border town pot shop like the ones in Ontario, Oregon, that are selling $10 million of marijuana per month. And unlike Oregon’s eastern counties, Montana’s western counties with the exception of Beaverhead County all approved the initiative, so they can begin sales on New Year’s Day. It took four years before Ontario overturned its ban on sales.

  • US 20 Eastbound from Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone (1hr 42min) — this would clearly be the most lucrative location, with highway access from all of southeast Idaho;
  • I 15 Northbound from Idaho Falls to Lima (1hr 24min) — this would be an even closer location for the southeast Idaho tokers, but it’s in Beaverhead County, so sales will be banned until overturned;
  • US 93 Northbound from Salmon to Medicine Hot Springs (1hr 11min) — a very mountainous route, but could be a shop for the outdoors adventurers;
  • I 90 Eastbound from Wallace to Tammany (25 min) — most of the Idaho Panhandle is already serviced by Eastern Washington, but this would be a good location for the towns west of Coeur d’Alene;
  • ID 210 Eastbound from Sandpoint to Heron (51 min) — is about a half hour shorter than the current trip to Ione, WA;
  • US 2 Eastbound from Bonners Ferry to Troy (37 min) — far shorter than the over two hour drive to Ione, WA.

Earlier this year, commissioners in Elko County, Nevada, approved up to two marijuana dispensaries to open soon in Jackpot, which would be a 49 minute drive down US 93 Southbound from Twin Falls.

Also, lawmakers in Wyoming introduced and passed out of committee a bill to legalize marijuana that later died in the House. Should Wyoming ever legalize marijuana, it would be a 1 hour, 23 minute drive from Idaho Falls to Alpine and just a 33 minute drive from Montpelier to Cokeville. Wyoming’s East Shoshone Tribe may also legalize marijuana, and their Wind River Reservation would be a slightly shorter drive from Idaho Falls than Ontario, Oregon.

When marijuana was illegal coast-to-coast, maintaining marijuana prohibition may have made some sense. But when your state is surrounded with legal marijuana purchases less than an hour away, maintaining prohibition is impossibly futile.

Idaho Citizens Coalition Sets Up Medical Marijuana Petition Signing at Ontario’s Treasure Valley Cannabis Company

You can also buy marijuana here, but make sure you take it to private property in Oregon to smoke out of public view then don’t drive back to Idaho for four hours.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little this evening vetoed SB 1150a, the bill that banned the gathering of signatures for initiative and referendum petitions outside the state of Idaho from anyone not serving in the military or on a religious mission.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee, where the bill first was introduced, said there’ll be no attempt to override the governor’s veto.

Idaho Press, “Governor vetoes final bill, on out-of-state initiative signature-gathering,” by Betsy Russell, May 17, 2021

With that news, we at the Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis are proud to welcome the support of the Treasure Valley Cannabis Company, one of the nine legal pot shops in Ontario, Oregon.

TVCC has agreed to let us set up a table inside their lobby to collect signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act and the soon-to-be-released Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act.

You’ll find our table at TVCC from Noon to 8pm*. We can collect signatures from any registered Idaho voter from any county. We can also register you to vote if you have your Idaho driver’s license or state ID.

The Lodge/Crane Official Idaho Marijuana Petition Signing Station

* Based on volunteer availability. Want to help out? Contact us.

Thanks for the idea, Sen. Lodge!

It’s really amusing how we ended up in this situation.

When we were campaigning for medical marijuana for the 2020 election, the first pot shops had just opened up in Ontario in the summer of 2019. As we saw reports of lines of Idahoans, we had considered collecting signatures at the shops, but in consulting with the Secretary of State’s Office, we were told we couldn’t collect out of state.

We didn’t question that false opinion because we really hadn’t planned to collect signatures at dispensaries. As the campaign wore on, we toured all 44 Idaho counties to collect signatures, but never at the rapidly-expanding Ontario pot shops.

But then Sen. Lodge introduced SB 1150. That was the first moment we understood that collecting signatures out of state was legal, or else they wouldn’t be banning it.

Still, we hadn’t planned on collecting out of state, because we figured that businesses making bank on Idaho’s prohibition might not be keen on helping us to overturn it. Besides, collecting a bunch of signatures, only to have a law pass that invalidates all of them, didn’t seem like a good risk. We don’t exactly have the funds yet for constitutional lawsuits, either.

Thanks for the help, Rep. Crane!

Then SB 1150 ran aground in the House after we testified that it would disenfranchise not just us, but also members of the military and missionaries serving out of state. That led Rep. Brent Crane to hastily tack on amendments to carve out exceptions for the military and missionaries.

That made the now SB 1150a even more unconstitutional, because beyond simply taking away half of the petitioning rights from all Idahoans, it took half the petitioning rights from only some Idahoans based on their employment status. It was so unconstitutional Gov. Little was forced to veto it.

So, thank you, Sen. Lodge, for filing a bill that let us know we could petition at the pot shops legally, and thank you, Rep. Crane, for making the bill so unconstitutional that now we don’t have to fund a lawsuit to challenge it. In fact, as a show of our gratitude we are officially dedicating our TVCC location as “The Lodge/Crane Idaho Marijuana Petitioning Site” and will keep a running tally of how many Idahoans have signed there and from which counties.

The Lodge/Crane Idaho Marijuana Petition Station

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Signature tally from this one station as of June 12, 2021.

Deputy AG: Idaho Bill to Ban Petitions at Pot Shops Likely Unconstitutional

Idaho Citizens Coalition’s Russ Belville collecting signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act at Treasure Valley Cannabis Company in Ontario, Oregon.

Gov. Little has until 7:12pm tonight to sign or veto SB 1150a, the bill to ban collection of signatures for Idaho initiatives and referenda outside of the state of Idaho. Or maybe 7:12pm next Tuesday. Or maybe not at all. It’s a very confusing situation at the Idaho legislature.

What is not confusing is the opinion of Deputy Attorney General Robert A. Berry, who wrote that the bill would probably be found unconstitutional, “because it likely discriminates against an identifiable class of voters without sufficient justification.”

This is the argument we have been making on these pages since the bill’s introduction by Sen. Patti Anne Lodge. We noted that the people’s power under the state constitution to propose and pass initiatives does not cease to exist when they are out-of-state.

Early in the process of passing this bill, its proponents tried to maintain a façade that it was necessary to protect the integrity of the initiative process, but it was clear to everyone that there was only one subject for which collecting signatures out of state was practical: marijuana legalization favored by the hundreds of Idaho customers crossing the border to purchase 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.

Knowing that the constitutional rights of whom they’d just consider a bunch of “potheads” wouldn’t sway the committee, we testified about the other Idahoans whose constitutional rights would be affected by SB 1150a. “All this bill will succeed in accomplishing is further restricting the initiative petition rights of Idaho college students who may be studying abroad,” we explained, “Idaho servicemembers who may be deployed overseas, and Idaho businesspeople who may have extended work out-of-state.”

Our testimony was successful in bottling up the bill in the House, as enough Republicans agreed that disenfranchising members of the military and missionaries who are stationed out of state was wrong.

Just when we thought we had slayed this dragon, Rep. Brent Crane came back with an amendment to SB 1150 that specifically exempted military and missionaries from the out of state signature ban. This cynical move was enough to sway Republicans into supporting it, as now presumably only the bad marijuana people would be losing their constitutional right to petition.

That amendment could be its own petard by which it is hoisted. A ban on all out of state signature gathering might be defended, since it affects all Idahoans equally. By singling out different groups of people to whom the ban does not apply, however, it runs afoul of constitutional equal protection considerations and “prior restraint,” a doctrine forbidding the government from selectively squelching free speech (and petitioning is free speech) based on content. You can’t say brave soldiers and pious missionaries have a right, but dirty potheads don’t, just because you like the former and hate the latter.

The Idaho representative who sought the Attorney general’s opinion seems to understand that, even if he can’t bring himself to explicitly recognize the rights of Idahoans shopping for legal marijuana.

Rep. Colin Nash, D-Boise, who requested the Attorney General’s opinion, said, “Your constitutional right to sign a ballot initiative is not suspended at the Oregon border, no more than your right to vote is suspended when you leave the state but intend to remain a resident.” That’s why we have absentee ballots, he noted.

Nash, an attorney, said, “An example of the provision that we put in there in the amendment was active-duty military that are deployed. Well, what about their family members that are stationed abroad with them but are still residents of Idaho? I feel like they have no less of an interest in signing a ballot initiative than their spouse who might be a service member. Not to mention students or anyone else who has a constitutional right to sign that ballot initiative. We gave them that, and we need to defend that right.”

“The Attorney General’s office knows this is unconstitutional,” Nash said. “It smells unconstitutional. I’d like to see the governor uphold his oath to the Constitution and veto it. It’s an easy one. I think other questions around ballot initiatives are probably less black and white, but this one is clear.”

Idaho Press, “Final bill on governor’s desk likely unconstitutional” by Betsy Russell, May 18, 2021

The only uncertainty remaining about SB 1150a is when the governor has to sign or veto it. When the legislature is in session, he has five business days from the moment it hit his desk, which was last Wednesday at 7:12pm. That would be tonight at 7:12pm.

But the legislature is not in session. When it adjourns, the governor has ten business days to sign or veto, which would be next Tuesday at 7:12pm.

But the legislature is not adjourned. The Senate adjourned but the House went into recess until no later than December 31.

So, are we in session or not? The governor’s office is still evaluating how the split adjournment/recess affects his legal responsibility. By 7:12pm tonight, we will know. And regardless of his actions, we will be expanding our signature gathering at the out of state pot shops, because we feel confident the bill will either be vetoed or found unconstitutional (and we will sue the state to make that happen).

Idaho is to the Right of Alabama on Medical Marijuana Now

Okay, we’ll swap ya an Alabama for a Mississippi…

For the entire Idaho legislative session, we listened to anti-marijuana legislators explain how Idaho is “the last foxhole” for prohibition, and how we had to continue locking people up for marijuana possession because we did not want to turn out like Portland or Seattle or Denver.

That argument gets weaker and weaker with the passage of every new marijuana reform in red conservative states. In the 2020 election, Idaho found itself to the right of South Dakota, Montana, and Mississippi on marijuana reform. This week, Idaho is to the right of Alabama on medical marijuana.

On Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Compassion Act (SB 46) into law, making Alabama the 36th state to legalize cannabis for medical use. 

The Compassion Act passed the legislature by a two-to-one margin with bipartisan support. The bill will allow registered patients with qualifying conditions in Alabama to safely access and use medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation. Medical cannabis will be available to patients in forms such as pills, lozenges, oils, and patches. A summary of the bill is available here.

Effective medical cannabis laws have now been adopted in 36 states, including several Southern states such as Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and now Alabama. (The count no longer includes Mississippi. Earlier this month, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a deeply flawed ruling to overturn Amendment 65, the medical cannabis law that voters overwhelmingly approved at the November 2020 election.)

Eleven states made up the traitorous Confederacy that waged war against the United States to preserve their chattel slavery of kidnapped Africans. All of those Confederate States are now more liberal on the issue of marijuana than Idaho:

  1. VIRGINIA: Legal for all adults;
  2. ARKANSAS: Medical marijuana legal;
  3. FLORIDA: Medical marijuana legal (legalization initiative recently killed by FL Supreme Court);
  4. ALABAMA: Non-smokable medical marijuana legal;
  5. LOUISIANA: Non-smokable medical marijuana legal (bill to legalize smokable medical marijuana and decriminalize marijuana at legislature);
  6. GEORGIA: <5.0% THC >5.0% CBD* oil legal;
  7. NORTH CAROLINA: <0.9% THC >15.0% CBD oil legal (medical marijuana filed in legislature);
  8. SOUTH CAROLINA: <0.9% THC >5.0% CBD oil legal (medical marijuana filed in legislature);
  9. TENNESSEE: <0.9% THC CBD oil legal (bill to expand CBD program at governor’s desk);
  10. MISSISSIPPI: <0.5% THC CBD oil legal (had been “medical marijuana legal” by 73% vote until MS Supreme Court killed initiatives, legislature may return to restore medical marijuana);
  11. TEXAS: <0.5% THC CBD oil legal (legislature currently looking to increase THC to 5% and decriminalize adult possession).

* GEORGIA allows for up to 5% THC and up to the same amount or more of CBD. So, you could have a 1% THC 1% CBD to a 1% THC 99% CBD preparation, but you could not have a 2% THC 1% CBD, because there needs to be more CBD than THC to be legal.

Collecting Signatures at Treasure Valley Cannabis Company

560 SE 12th Ave. Ontario, Oregon

SB 1150a is a bill passed by the legislature that requires all signatures collected for an Idaho initiative are collected in Idaho. Only military and missionaries serving out of state may sign petitions while out of state.

The law is a transparent attack on the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act petition, for it is the only one for which there is a steady stream of Idaho voters eager to sign an initiative to end their pot pilgrimage to Ontario.

Come sign the initiative out of state while you still can!

But as of this posting, Gov. Little has not signed SB 1150a. We figured it would be rude to have never collected any signatures for the medical marijuana initiative when the legislature went to all the trouble to ban it.

So come on down to Treasure Valley Cannabis Company at 560 SE 12th Ave., Ontario, Oregon, until 6pm or the governor signs SB 1150a, whichever comes first.