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

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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.

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