Tag: Idaho

Reefer Madness Attacks Democracy in South Dakota and Idaho

Many Reefer Madness prohibitionists today try to claim that they aren’t of the same ilk as Harry Anslinger and lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key prohibitionists of the past, but the results are the same: unfair laws that punish people for utilizing a substance safer than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. As cannabis legalization has gone mainstream across the nation, legal changes in traditional states has anti-cannabis officials turning to anti-democratic tactics to trample the will of the voters.

It was one thing to legalize cannabis on the West Coast and other seemingly progressive and then moderate states, but reforms passing in conservative states like Oklahoma, Missouri, Utah, and Mississippi has prohibitionists shook. On the heels of the Idaho Senate passing a constitutional ban on legalizing cannabis by one vote, a South Dakota judge has stricken down Amendment A, the state’s voter-approved constitutional provision, as The Hill reported:

A South Dakota judge ruled Monday that a voter-approved constitutional amendment that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use was in itself unconstitutional, setting up a legal fight that pits Gov. Kristi Noem (R) against her own constituents.

Circuit Court Judge Christina Klinger, a Noem appointee in Pierre, ruled that Amendment A violated a rule that ballot measures cover only a single subject, and that it does not conform to rules governing the way the state constitution is amended.

South Dakota voters approved Amendment A, which legalized recreational marijuana, by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin in November. A separate ballot measure legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes passed with almost 70 percent support.

Recent governmental actions against both common sense and the wishes of voters demonstrates how hard it is to end prohibition across the nation. If we want to implement reforms at the federal level, the cannabis community needs to help fellow advocates in conservative states. Each state that passes medical and adult-use laws adds more representatives and senators to our fight in Congress as, while there will be some holdouts, more politicians will reflect the will of their voters as their jobs are on the line. We’ve come a long way, but much more work to be done. Let’s keep at it and remember those suffering in prohibition states.

Idaho Cannabis Community Needs to Rise Up to Stop Constitutional Ban

Now, it’s getting serious. What seemed like a desperate ploy from a bygone era, a constitutional amendment to prohibit cannabis legalization in Idaho is gaining legislative steam. Republican State Senator C. Scott Grow’s Reefer Madness-inspired bill passed out of Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee on a party line vote and will now go before the full committee. If passed by the House and Idaho voters, all psychoactive drugs would forever be illegal in the Gem State unless approved by the FDA. To signify how ridiculous this constitutional amendment is, even if the federal government repealed federal prohibition by removing cannabis from the list of controlled substances, cannabis would still remain constitutionally prohibited in Idaho.

While proponents like Senator Grow spouted debunked lies like cannabis legalization leading to crime, opponents wisely pushed back with science and common sense, as ABC News reported:

Those opposed said medical marijuana is needed for Idaho residents suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses. Dan Zuckerman, medical director of St. Luke’s Cancer Institute, said dealing with over a thousand cancer patients over more than a decade convinced him of the efficacy of medical marijuana in helping with pain and nausea.

“I’ve seen it myself with my own eyes,” he said. “The data is clear that patients benefit from this.”

Sen. Michelle Stennett, a Democrat from Ketchum, also noted that the amendment would prohibit doctors from providing terminally ill patients access to experimental or investigational drugs that are normally illegal but can still be prescribed in certain circumstances when other treatments have failed.

While a constitutional ban on cannabis will keep Idahoans coming to Oregon (the road trip to Pendleton to visit Kind Leaf IS worth the trek), helping create jobs and generate revenue for the Beaver State, this proposed constitutional ban is just wrong and sets a dangerous precedent for other states to follow. If Senator Grow gets his way, then other Reefer Madness prohibitionists will consider similar constitutional bans in other states, leading to more unnecessary arrests and the continuation of a domestic war that has already harmed too many nonviolent Americans.

Idaho Senator Doubles Down on Reefer Madness Nonsense

While the rest of the nation is following both science and the will of the voters, America’s last prohibition state is doubling down on the Reefer Madness delusion that cannabis is a scourge that can only be eradicated by arresting and jailing people for utilizing a substance that is much less addictive and harmful than alcohol. While a supermajority of folks now understand that cannabis prohibition should be swept into the dustbin of history as alcohol prohibition once was, Idaho State Senator C. Scott Grow, is calling for a constitutional amendment to forever ban cannabis and other “psychoactive drugs” from being legalized within the borders of the Gem State.

My friend and activist colleague, Russ Belville, an Idaho native working on ending cannabis prohibition in the state, provided his take:

Idaho is the last state in America with absolute marijuana prohibition. Not only are adult-use and medical marijuana illegal here, even the low-THC CBD oil that was legalized federally under the 2018 Farm Bill is still illegal in Idaho. It’s so absurd that Idaho State Police declared a 6,700lb load of industrial hemp being trucked through the state was “the biggest drug bust in state history.

This amendment is just the latest anti-marijuana salvo from prohibitionist state legislators who are out-of-touch with their constituents on the issue of marijuana.

And as the Idaho Statesman noted, Idaho’s Reefer Madness policies don’t prevent Idahoans from using cannabis, it merely increases the coffers of the great state of Oregon, as Idaho’s cannabis community just makes purchases across the border:

Idaho — which does not allow medical marijuana — is now surrounded by border states that have legalized the drug in some capacity, with the exception of Wyoming. Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Montana have legalized recreational pot, while Utah allows medical marijuana. A total of 36 states have approved medical marijuana use, while 15 have allowed recreational use.

Banning pot hasn’t stopped Idaho residents from buying it. An economic analysis released by Oregon last year showed marijuana sales along the Idaho border were up 420% the statewide average.

Idahoans, contact your legislators and urge them to oppose this constitutional amendment. Regardless of one’s political position, they should be extremely wary about tinkering with the constitution to prohibit the rights of people. Opinions, statutory code, and scientific knowledge changes over time. If this constitutional ban does make this ballot, I imagine that the ironically named C. Scott Grow will rue the day.

The ballot box is where cannabis policy reform thrives. While reforms are tough to pass in legislatures, places where big money interests have too much power, cannabis measures do great when put before the people. Placing cannabis at the ballot box is coming onto our home turf. Our record winning elections is better than the best sports dynasties, probably only eclipsed by the Harlem Globetrotters. With positive cannabis passing in conservative states like South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, I like cannabis’ chances.

Idaho residents thinking of traveling to Oregon should venture into beautiful Pendleton for a great road trip getaway. Don’t just settle for any Oregon dispensary. Come to Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, and enjoy the best selection in the state, if not the entire Great Northwest. Order online via Leafly to save time, or come on in and marvel at what the future holds, regardless of the futile attempts of Reefer Madness prohibitionists like Senator Grow.

South Dakota to Vote on Cannabis Legalization This Year

Since 1996, presidential election years have been big years for cannabis law reform measures on the ballot and 2020 is shaping up to be another monumental one for the cannabis community. A somewhat unlikely state may just make the leap to full legalization as advocates in South Dakota have put in the hard work of gathering signatures to qualify an amendment for the November ballot. Each state that passes a medical or recreational measure brings us one step closer to ending prohibition federally, and bonus points go to activists that have success in conservative locales like the Mount Rushmore State. Marijuana Moment reported:

The proposed constitutional amendment, which was submitted by a former federal prosecutor in September, would allow adults 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. Individuals would also be allowed to cultivate up to three cannabis plants.

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Under the broader recreational legalization proposal, the South Dakota Department of Revenue would be responsible for issuing licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities and retailers. And sales on cannabis products would be taxed at 15 percent, with revenue earmarked to cover the program’s implementation, public education and the state general fund.

Additionally, the measure requires the legislature to pass bills providing access to medical cannabis for patients and allowing for the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. If the separate medical marijuana legalization initiative is approved, however, that specific provision wouldn’t be necessary.

Gathering thousands of signatures is no easy task, especially during the winter, so my gratitude goes out to everyone that braves the elements to help legalize freedom, jobs, and revenue around our great nation, especially in states that aren’t your typical hotbed of support. However, the times are a-changin’ with medical provisions passing in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah as these victories give me hope that sensible cannabis policies will soon be the law of the land in red states like South Dakota and Idaho. State by state, freedom is on the march, bringing the cannabis community closer and closer to equality from coast to coast.

Just Like Every Year, 2020 Will Be a Big Year for Cannabis

Since California passed Proposition 215, becoming the first state to legalize medical cannabis, back in 1996, virtually every single year has been a big year for the cannabis community, as we’ve continued to make progress dismantling Reefer Madness-inspired prohibition across the nation. Major election years tend to have the biggest developments and 2020 is certainly no different as we’ll be seeing numerous states consider important reforms either at the ballot box or through legislative actions. Of course, the federal elections will go a long way towards Uncle Sam’s cannabis policies in the coming years.

One of the most important ballot measures, particularly to those of us living in the Great Pacific Northwest is a medical proposal currently gathering the 50,000+ needed valid signatures in Idaho, the last bastion of complete prohibition in the area. Full disclosure–I helped draft early versions of the initiative, and am extremely proud of the dedicated, hardworking advocates that are currently traveling the state urging folks to sign the petition. With conservative Utah passing medical cannabis in 2018, there is optimism that Idahoans will join the medical cannabis majority, as support for medicinal use as strong majority support across demographics.

Tom Angell reported on Idaho, and 15 other states with potential 2020 reform measures for Forbes, here’s what he had to say about the Gem State:

Idaho is one of only a handful of states in the U.S. that doesn’t even allow patients to access CBD medications with low-THC content. That could change, however, under a proposed medical marijuana ballot measure for which activists are currently collecting signatures.

The Idaho Cannabis Coalition’s proposal would let approved patients and their caregivers possess up to four ounces of marijuana. A system of licensed and regulated growers, processors, testers and retail dispensaries would be established.

Patients would not be allowed to grow their own medicine unless they qualify for a hardship exemption for those who have have a physical, financial or distance difficulty in acquiring marijuana at a dispensary. Those patients could grow up to six plants.

It will be great to see Idaho and other states move forward with positive reforms as there are still too many people getting arrested and patients in need across the United States. In addition to people’s freedom and wellbeing being harmfully disrupted, federal business regulations, particularly tax and banking policies that are hurting small businesses, will only be addressed with a groundswell of support as we increase our political power state by state. So long as we keep working hard and spreading the truth about cannabis, 2020 will be another banner year for our community.

Report: Alcohol-Related Car Crashes Decreased in Idaho After Cannabis Legalized by Its Neighbor

Ever since the days of Reefer Madness, prohibitionists have found various ways to provoke fear about cannabis cannabis, from saying that it makes all of its users crazy to claiming that legalization will cause mayhem on our highways. As most of us now know, these “the sky is falling” stories have been debunked one by one, including the prediction of the extreme dangers on our roads. Somewhat surprisingly however, a new report out of the Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity, authored by economist Benjamin Hanson, found that legalization in Washington State led to a decrease in alcohol-related car crashes in neighboring Idaho.

Marijuana Moment reported:

Two key dates, Hansen noted in his paper, were September 2015 and March 2016: That’s when recreational marijuana sales began in Walla Walla, Washington, and in Huntington, Oregon, respectively. Both are located within driving distance of the Idaho border, thus making it easy for residents to drive across state lines to purchase cannabis. Additionally, the paper states, Idaho law enforcement report “consistent increases in trafficking and seizures following Washington’s and Oregon’s legalizations.”

Hansen confirmed that searches for the term “dispensaries” increased “dramatically” in Idaho after Washington legalized marijuana. “This suggests that interest in marijuana—specifically, marijuana available in Washington and Oregon—increased significantly as stores opened nearby and that the trend break is not due to random chance,” he writes.

The author also found that access to recreational marijuana was associated with a 21 percent decrease in accidents involving alcohol in Idaho counties directly bordering Washington. Counties located one hour away from Washington saw a reduction of 18 percent, while counties three hours away saw a reduction of 10 percent. When the driving distance from Washington was four hours or more, the effect was insignificant, the author writes.

As cannabis moves more and more mainstream, with Michigan just starting regulated sales, it will be interesting to see if these results are replicated across other states. One thing is for certain–Reefer Madness fearmongering gets debunked each and every time and it is time to stop criminalizing patients and responsible adults all across our great nation.