Idaho Press: Senate votes 24-11 in favor of SJR 101, anti-drug constitutional amendment, sends to House side

Idaho Press reporter Betsy Russell covers state politics at the Capitol.

After a lengthy and sometimes emotional debate, the Idaho Senate has voted 24-11 in favor of SJR 101, Sen. C. Scott Grow’s proposed constitutional amendment to forbid Idaho from legalizing psychoactive drugs. “We need to hold fast,” Grow told the Senate.

Several senators who hadn’t debated the bill took 30 seconds to explain their votes, as Senate rules permit. Sen. Regina Bayer, R-Meridian, one of four Senate Republicans to vote against SJR 101, told the Senate, “I am not in support of legalizing recreational marijuana. I do support medical cannabis, CBD products and hemp as an agricultural crop. I know a Vietnam vet who almost died from years and years of opioids, but is now free of them with CBD. This can be an aid to end our opioid crisis. We have all seen the defeat of hemp bills over the past couple of years when discussion has thrown hemp and marijuana into the same pot. I believe this could happen again. I reject referring to a federal agency in our Constitution whose rules and regulations are never constant, they change with administrations.” She said, “Science is ever-evolving, and we could easily be given further information.”

Idaho Senate Passes Constitutional Amendment to Forever Ban Medical Marijuana by One Vote

In a 24–11 vote, the Idaho Senate has approved Senate Joint Resolution 101, a proposed amendment that would place into the state constitution the prohibition of drugs currently listed in Schedule I or II of Idaho statute.

The measure needed 24 votes—a two-thirds majority—of the Senate to pass. It now heads to the House, where it also needs a two-thirds majority (47 of 70 votes) to pass. If approved by the House, the measure would head to the ballot for a vote of the people, needing a bare majority to pass.

Senators voting AYE (in favor of forever prohibiting medical marijuana):

Sen. Jim Woodward (R-1 Sagle)(208) 332-1349Email
Sen. Peter Riggs (R-3 Post Falls)(208) 332-1338Email
Sen. Mary Souza (R-4 Coeur d’Alene)(208) 332-1322Email
Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-7 Grangeville)(208) 332-1355Email
Sen. Steven Thayn (R-8 Emmett)(208) 332-1344Email
Sen. Abby Lee (R-9 Fruitland)(208) 332-1325Email
Sen. Jim Rice (R-10 Caldwell)(208) 332-1423Email
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge (R-11 Caldwell)(208) 332-1320Email
Sen. Todd Lakey (R-12 Nampa)(208) 332-1328Email
Sen. Jeff Agenbroad (R-13 Nampa)(208) 332-1329Email
Sen. C. Scott Grow (R-14 Eagle)(208) 332-1334Email
Sen. Fred Martin (R-15 Boise)(208) 332-1407Email
Sen. Chuck Winder (R-20 Boise)(208) 332-1354Email
Sen. Lori Den Hartog (R-22 Meridian)(208) 332-1340Email
Sen. Lee Heider (R-24 Twin Falls)(208) 332-1347Email
Sen. Jim Patrick (R-25 Twin Falls)(208) 332-1318Email
Sen. Kelly Arthur Anthon (R-27 Burley)(208) 332-1327Email
Sen. Jim Guthrie (R-28 McCammon)(208) 332-1348Email
Sen. Kevin Cook (R-30 Idaho Falls)(208) 332-1358Email
Sen. Steve Bair (R-31 Blackfoot)(208) 332-1346Email
Sen. Mark Harris (R-32 Soda Springs)(208) 332-1429Email
Sen. Dave Lent (R-33 Idaho Falls)(208) 332-1313Email
Sen. Doug Ricks (R-34 Rexburg)(208) 332-1301Email
Sen. Van Burtenshaw (R-35 Terreton)(208) 332-1342Email
While their votes are already cast, these senators who voted to put prohibition of medical marijuana forever in the state constitution are up for reelection in 2022. If one of these senators represents you, feel free to politely inform them how their support of Senate Joint Resolution 101 affects how you will vote in the Republican primary elections in 2022.

Senators voting NO (opposed to forever prohibiting medical marijuana)

Sen. Steve Vick (R-2 Dalton Gardens)(208) 332-1345Email
Sen. David Nelson (D-5 Moscow)(208) 332-1405Email
Sen. Daniel Johnson (R-6 Lewiston)(208) 332-1421Email
Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D-16 Boise)(208) 332-1409Email
Sen. Ali Rabe (D-17 Boise)(208) 332-1352Email
Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-18 Boise)(208) 332-1425Email
Sen. Melissa Wintrow (D-19 Boise)(208) 332-1339Email
Sen. Regina Bayer (R-21 Meridian)(208) 332-1331Email
Sen. Christy Zito (R-23 Hammett)(208) 332-1336Email
Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-26 Ketchum)(208) 332-1353Email
Sen. Mark Nye (D-29 Pocatello)(208) 332-1406Email
While their votes are already cast, these senators who voted against forever prohibiting medical marijuana need to hear from constituents that they did the right thing. If one of these senators represents you, feel free to politely inform them how you value their opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 101

Idaho Freedom Foundation & ACLU of Idaho Both Oppose C. Scott Grow’s SJR 101

The Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), a conservative policy organization, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU), a liberal policy organization, have both come out in opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 101, a proposal by Sen. C. Scott Grow to enshrine the prohibitions on Schedule I & II drugs, like marijuana, in the Idaho Constitution.

“When you can get the left and the right to agree that proposed legislation is unwise and flawed, you know it’s a bad bill,” said Russ Belville, spokesperson for the Idaho Citizens Coalition (ICC), the organization dedicated to passing a medical marijuana law for the state of Idaho.

The IFF has given SJR 101 a rating of “-5,” the lowest possible rating the IFF can give proposed legislation, and the lowest rating given to any senate legislation this session. See: http://rad-r.us/IFFonSJR101

The ACLU has listed its position on SJR 101 as “oppose.” See: http://rad-r.us/ACLUonSJR101

The IFF’s rating reflects the organization’s disdain for SJR 101 owes to the fact it “gives government greater power to prohibit or restrict activities in the free market now and in the future.” IFF believes that SJR 101’s references to statute are inappropriate language for the constitution, arguing, “[i]f state statutes cannot exist without constitutional authority to exist, it would be almost paradoxical, then, for state statutes to be written into the constitution.”

The ACLU agrees with the IFF on the overreach of government authority. “After an election year where numerous states legalized marijuana, or in some cases decriminalized drugs via ballot initiative, this amendment attempts to cleverly stifle citizens’ ability to pursue that objective here in Idaho.”

The IFF also rejects SJR 101 for its ceding of state authority to the federal government by making Idaho’s drug laws dependent on federal law. “Using FDA approval as a standard,” writes the IFF, “outsources the determination of Idaho’s destiny, law, and concept of justice to a federal agency run by political appointees subject to the vagaries of partisan administrations.”

SJR 101 heads to the Senate this morning, where it is expected to face a close vote on the 2/3 majority it needs to pass. “Our polling shows that three-quarters of Idahoans support creating a medical marijuana program in Idaho,” said ICC’s Belville, “with well over 60% support among Republicans, LDS Churchgoers, and people over age 65. Literally, the only demographic in the State of Idaho that opposes our medical marijuana initiative are legislators. Their desperation to ban marijuana in the constitution to stop us proves that.” See: https://IdahoCann.co/facts

Idaho Freedom Foundation Gives Drug Prohibition Amendment Lowest Possible Rating

SJR 101, the proposed amendment to enshrine Schedule I & II drug prohibitions in the state constitution, has been rated as “-5” by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, the lowest possible rating based on five criteria favored by the conservative policy organization and the lowest rating of any senate bill they’ve rated in 2021.

Following are the criteria by which the IFF rates legislation:


Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market? [Rating: -1]

Fixing such prohibitions in the state constitution… gives government greater power to prohibit or restrict activities in the free market now and in the future.

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? [Rating: -1]

If state statutes cannot exist without constitutional authority to exist, it would be almost paradoxical, then, for state statutes to be written into the constitution. 

Our constitution requires that laws be written in plain English. The idea behind this requirement is that laws should be written in a way so that the average person can read and understand what is legal and what is not legal in the state of Idaho. [Rating: -1]

Statutes about drugs… are so detailed and intricate… [that] the practical result of the amendment is to make the law mostly incomprehensible to the average person.

Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules?Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism? [Rating: -1]

There are multiple references in this resolution setting the determinations of the FDA and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as the standard for what is legal in Idaho. 

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?

The purpose of this proposed amendment is to convert the Idaho Constitution from a roadmap for governing into an itemized list of infringements on individual liberty. 

Idaho Press: Senate GOP caucus runs long, anti-drug amendment debate put off ’til tomorrow

Idaho Press reporter Betsy Russell covers the politics beat at the State Capitol.

After Senate Republicans caucused behind closed doors for more than an hour and only emerged well after noon, the Senate has decided not to take up SJR 101, the anti-drug constitutional amendment, today after all. “It was going to be today,” said Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle. Now, he said, it’ll be “tomorrow.”


Idaho Citizens Coalition activists at the Statehouse (L-R): Russ Belville, Serra Frank, Bill Esbensen, Lori Duckworth, Jackie Belville, Philip and Nicole.

What could the Senate Republicans have been discussing behind closed doors? Are they feeling the national heat over the anti-medical-marijuana amendment? Whatever the reasons, it gives us another day to round up observers to join us in the Senate Gallery tomorrow at 11am.

If you can’t make it to Boise to join us, you can always join us virtually. Idaho Public Television broadcasts the live stream of the Idaho Senate.

Idaho Has More Drug Crime Than Oregon & Washington

A report on SJR 101 from Boise State Public Radio makes a salient point rebutting Republican support for banning medical marijuana forever:

“Republican supporters say crime is higher in neighboring states that have legalized weed and other drugs,” writes BSPR. “But…

Crime statistics from 2019 show Idaho reports two to four times more drug cases per capita and has much higher arrest rates for drug offenses than Oregon and Washington.

According to the FBI’s 2019 Uniform Crime Report, Idaho made 622 drug arrests per 100,000 population, easily eclipsing Oregon’s 356/100K and Washington’s 159/100K.

We don’t make the data. We just report it.

The claim by our opponents that medical marijuana legalization would endanger other drivers is also belied by the data. There were 451/100K arrests for driving under the influence in Idaho, compared to 337/100K for Oregon and 388/100K for Washington.

Interestingly, lack of access to legal marijuana in Idaho seems to correlate with violations of state liquor laws. In Idaho, there were 71/100K arrests for violations of liquor laws, while there were 63/100K in Oregon and 22/100K in Washington. There were 37/100K arrests for drunkenness in Idaho and only 1/100K each in Oregon and Washington.

With a status quo like this, no wonder Sen. Grant Burgoyne doesn’t want to freeze our drug laws in the constitution.

State Sen. Grant Burgoyne in Senate State Affairs Hearing on SJR 101.

Idaho Legislature Attacks More Than Just Medical Marijuana

Idaho Citizens Coalition spokesperson Russ Belville hosts a weekly marijuana politics program on RadicalRuss.com.

Once again the Idaho Legislature is in session. The Senate has already made national news for the efforts of an ironically-named State Sen. C. Scott Grow trying to pass a constitutional amendment to forever ban medical marijuana.

Yes, please, tell us all about how the legislature promotes temperance and sobriety, Sen. Grow.
If we don’t do something drastic, the majority might decide our culture!

Remember, medical marijuana is already illegal in Idaho. In fact, even hemp-derived CBD oil and industrial hemp itself are considered “marijuana” in Idaho. But Grow and the Legislature know that 73% of Idahoans—including 63% of Republicans, 62% of LDS Churchgoers, and 64% of Idahoans over age 65—support medical marijuana and would easily pass the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act when it makes the 2022 ballot.

This move by Sen. Grow is even more despicable knowing that his own sister-in-law is a medical marijuana patient, forced to move over the border into Oregon to treat her chronic condition, using medical cannabis legally grown by his niece.

Idaho Senate Bill 1017 Legalizes FDA-Approved Pharmaceutical CBD

While we have been focusing on Senate Joint Resolution 101 (the medical marijuana prohibition amendment), the Idaho Senate has also introduced a bill removing FDA-approved cannabidiol drugs (like GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, which costs $32,500 a year) from Idaho’s Controlled Substances List.

Idaho Senate Bill 1017 redefines “marijuana” to not include FDA-approved CBD drugs

Such a fix is necessary to comport with C. Scott Grow’s proposed constitutional amendment to forever ban medical marijuana initiatives. In his text, he references Idaho Code §37-2701(t), the definition of “marijuana,” in order to make all marijuana permanently illegal. Without SB 1017’s passage, FDA-approved CBD drugs that are already federally legal would be forever banned in Idaho.

Idaho Senate Bill 1017 redefines Schedule V of the Controlled Substances List to no longer include FDA-approved pharmaceutical cannabidiol drugs.

Such FDA-approved drugs have been listed under Schedule V of Idaho’s Controlled Substances Act, the least-restricted category of drugs in the state. SB 1017 deletes that reference, meaning that these CBD drugs will no longer be a controlled substance.

But non-FDA-approved CBD containing any amount of THC (also known as “hemp-derived CBD” or “full-spectrum CBD”) will still be “marijuana” under the law and lead to your arrest. Because, apparently, CBD you grow and harvest for pennies is dangerous, but the same CBD a pharmaceutical corporation grows and sells you for dollars is safe.

That the Idaho Legislature is so willing to recognize the medical benefit of cannabinoids is good thing, even if they can’t seem to understand they work just as well (and cost far less) when derived from a natural source.

Note also that these newly-approved drugs must contain less than 0.1 percent THC, which still restricts them to a three times lower threshold than the federal government recognizes for hemp-derived CBD products.

Despite its purpose to fulfill C. Scott Grow’s agenda of banning medical marijuana initiatives, SB 1017 on its own is a good bill the Senate should pass. We do not oppose pharmaceutical preparations of cannabinoid medicines. We just oppose preventing the people from preparing those medicines on their own, as God and nature intended.

Talking Points to Lobby Against SJR 101

It’s more important than ever to contact your Senator and tell them to vote NO on SJR 101

Our allies at the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C. have hired a full-time lobbyist to help us represent the interests of medical marijuana patients in the State of Idaho. She will need your help in contacting your state senator and representatives to deliver the following messages:

Vote NO on Senate Joint Resolution 101

The proposed amendment is a convoluted and unnecessary restriction on Idaho’s ballot initiative process

February 2, 2021

The proposed amendment:

  • Seeks to restrict the ability of Idahoans to use the ballot initiative process to make decisions on medical marijuana and other drug policies;
  • Sets a troubling precedent for future efforts to further restrict the ballot initiative process; and
  • Establishes constitutional restrictions that are tied to current state statutes — a flawed design for any constitutional amendment.

Furthermore, the proposed amendment is entirely unnecessary in Idaho due to the fact that voters can only use the ballot initiative process to change state statutes — not the state constitution. Only the legislature has the power to propose constitutional amendments. In addition, unlike other states, Idaho does not protect laws that are established through the ballot initiative process from changes by the legislature.

We all know why legislators are proposing this amendment — they wish to impede a potential 2022 or 2024 medical marijuana ballot initiative in Idaho. Lawmakers should consider the following:

  • An overwhelming majority of Idahoans support medical marijuana.
  • A 2019 poll conducted by national marijuana reform groups found that 73% of Idaho voters would have voted to approve a 2020 medical marijuana ballot initiative (63% support among Republicans, 62% support among LDS voters, 85% support among independents, and 64% support with voters 65+).
You literally cannot find any demographic majority in Idaho that opposes medical marijuana—except in the Legislature.
  • South Dakota just passed medical marijuana with 70% of the vote. As of today, 36 states have enacted functional medical marijuana laws.
  • It’s time to stop treating medical marijuana patients like criminals. No Idahoan should be forced to break the law in order to live a healthier life.
  • Medical marijuana is a safe alternative to addictive and potentially lethal opioids.
  • Many veterans and doctors have found that medical marijuana can be highly effective in treating cancer patients, MS, ALS, epilepsy and seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, PTSD, and a range of other serious conditions.
  • The Utah Medical Association and Utah political leaders supported a compromise medical marijuana law in 2018 that has subsequently been implemented.

Idaho Legislators to Introduce Sgt. Jeremy Kitzhaber Medical Marijuana Act

Tomorrow we expect a bill to be filed by Reps. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) and Mike Kingsley (R-Lewiston) that would create a strict medical marijuana program for the State of Idaho.

The bill, entitled The Sgt. Jeremy Kitzhaber Medical Marijuana Act, is the brainchild of the eponymous 22-year Air Force veteran who suffers from terminal cancer.

Sgt. Jeremy Kitzhaber, courtesy of Idaho DLCC

We have been in contact with the representatives and with Sgt. Kitzhaber to inform them of certain issues we have with the legislation. They have been very receptive to our suggestions and are working to incorporate some of them before filing the bill.

The Idaho Statesman has published an op-ed from the two legislators regarding their bill:


[Jeremy] spent the last two years drafting legislation to carefully regulate and control medical cannabis, containing extensive safeguards so Idaho would not turn into Oregon. Jeremy’s bill is modeled after Utah’s legislation, but is more strict. The cannabis must be in medical dosage form (blister-sealed packaging) in very limited doses, no growing or production allowed, cannabis card needed for possession and only medical providers who can prescribe opioids could prescribe cannabis. Also, if a person misuses their card to obtain cannabis for someone else, it would be revoked immediately upon conviction.

We are state representatives from different parties, but we are co-sponsoring the “Sergeant Kitzhaber Medical Cannabis Act” because pain is not partisan. We agree that Idahoans should not become criminals for seeking safer, better treatment. Thirty-six states have legalized medical cannabis, and 22 of these have not progressed to recreational marijuana. Many of these are red states, like Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma and Missouri, that have found a way to get sick people the treatment they need without unsavory pot dispensaries popping up or kids getting access to marijuana.

We can get patients help for pain without stepping on a slippery slope, and this is what most Idahoans want. A 2019 poll from FM3 Research showed 72% of Idahoans were in favor of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, and that number has likely climbed higher since the poll was taken. There is strong evidence cannabis is a much safer treatment than opioids and would better serve those suffering from a variety of illnesses, like cancer, epilepsy, ALS, and multiple sclerosis.


How this plays out politically has yet to be seen. Can we get the House to drop support for C. Scott Grow’s constitutional prohibition bill in exchange for our support of this medical marijuana bill? If the Kitzhaber bill passes, then supporters of Grow’s prohibition could claim medical marijuana has been taken care of and his amendment just bans “legalizing recreational marijuana and drugs.” If the Kitzhaber bill doesn’t match our beliefs about medical marijuana, do we then continue the effort to place the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act on the ballot as an initiative?

When we have the final bill tomorrow, we will post it for discussion.

Idaho Senate to Hear Marijuana Prohibition Amendment Today

On the Senate Calendar for Monday, February 1, 2021 is the second reading of SJR 101, the proposal by Idaho Senator C. Scott Grow to amend the state constitution to make it impossible for citizens to pass a medical marijuana initiative.

Available at https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/agenda/scal/

Citizens will not be afforded the opportunity to testify. We will be in the Senate Gallery, however, to witness as senators debate the bill. The more people we have in the gallery, the more pressure will be on the senators to do the right thing and reject this ham-handed attempt to ban medical marijuana initiatives that three-quarters of Idahoans support.

You can take action by writing your senators and representatives here. Some points to get across:

  • This amendment would make it impossible for citizens or the legislature to ever legalize medical marijuana.
  • This amendment ties Idaho’s drug laws to the federal FDA, which can never regulate a plant.
  • Three-quarters of Idahoans support a medical marijuana law.
  • The Idaho Constitution vests in the people the power to make laws. This amendment violates that charter by taking from the people the power to make laws about medical marijuana.
  • This amendment unfairly attempts to ban medical marijuana by “banning psychoactive drugs” to fool Idahoans into supporting it.
  • Sen. Grow and others say, “Let the people decide.” But if this amendment and a medical marijuana initiative are on the 2022 ballot, if the “ban all drugs” prohibition amendment gets a majority vote, the medical marijuana initiative fails, even if it gets a greater majority vote. If, say, medical marijuana got a 75% vote and the prohibition amendment got a 50.01% vote, the prohibition amendment wins, because amendments outrank initiatives—you can’t legalize what’s unconstitutional.
  • This amendment pretends all medical and scientific understanding has been achieved in 2021—no other currently illegal drug not approved by the federal FDA could be legalized, even if it was found to cure cancer!
  • Even if the federal FDA approved one of the constitutionally prohibited drugs, the legislature would have to go through the amendment process—2/3 vote of the Senate, 2/3 vote of the House, majority vote of the people—before that drug could be legalized.
  • This amendment ignores the existence of “designer drugs,” chemicals that mimic an illegal drug, but are just different enough to not actually be that drug, so they are technically unprohibited. Thus, the constitution might end up saying you can’t legalize drug “ABC”, then a chemist might create drug “ABc” that does the same thing, but technically isn’t “ABC”.

Keep making noise about this amendment. We’ve already made national ABC News and more national media outlets are now paying attention. Let those senators feel the heat of national attention in a country where 68 percent of the people support marijuana legalization.

Celebstoner: Idaho Senate Tries to Block Marijuana Legalization Efforts with Constitutional Amendment

Steve Bloom covers the world of celebrities and cannabis in his blog CelebStoner.com.

It’s not easy being a marijuana activist in Idaho. The only state in the country with no favorable cannabis laws – recreational, medical, CBD or hemp – Idaho appears to be heading in the wrong direction. 

The Republican legislature there is pushing a state Constitutional ban on legalizing “certain psychoactive drugs,” such as marijuana. This would prevent medical or recreational legalization from happening in Idaho.

First the legislature has to pass Senate Joint Resolution 101. Then Idaho citizens would get to vote on the measure in the 2022 election. 

This is nothing new for Idaho. Former NORML outreach coordinator Russ Belville, who lives in nearby Ontario, Oregon, tells CelebStoner: