Advocates in Idaho are launching a ballot initiative push to legalize medical cannabis in the state in 2020, according to a report from Grizzle. The organizers have 10 months to gather 55,057 petition signatures to put the issue to voters during next year’s general election.
The drive by the Idaho Cannabis Coalition is led by John Belville, a former addiction counselor who suffers from peripheral neuropathy. Belville told Grizzle he has purchased cannabis oil from neighboring Oregon to treat his condition rather than prescription pain killers. He called Idaho a “prohibition island” bordered by recreational-use states – Washington, Oregon, and Nevada – along with Montana and Utah which have medical cannabis programs. Idaho is also bordered by Canada, which allows adult-cannabis sales and use federally.
On New Year’s Day, recreational legalization advocates in the state – Legalize Idaho and Idaho Moms for Marijuana – held a rally at the capitol building supporting the broader reforms.
Ballot initiatives to legalize medical cannabis in Idaho have failed four times in the past. In 2012 and 2014, advocates were unable to collect enough signatures to put the issue to voters; in 2016 the petition was withdrawn even before signatures were counted. Last year the effort was led by the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association which stopped collecting signatures five months before the midterm elections. The now-defunct organization’s President Tesla Gillespie said at that time that the group wasn’t sufficiently funded to collect enough signatures.
In 2015, lawmakers did approve a bill to legalize CBD products for epileptic children; however, then-Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the plan. In 2018, the state House passed a CBD legalization bill with a veto-proof majority, but the Senate never voted on the measure.
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