Idaho marijuana activists have submitted revised text for a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state following a review by the state attorney general.
Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for the 2022 ballot.
The adult-use initiative would be fairly limited in scope. It would make it so possession of up to three ounces of marijuana would be lawful on private property for adults 21 and older. Home cultivation would be prohibited, however, and there would be no legal and licensed system of cannabis retailers.
Possession outside of a private residence would generally remain criminalized, though the measure specifies that “transporting a personal amount of marijuana from a jurisdiction where the marijuana was legally purchased” would be legal. That’s crucial because adults would be able to travel to dispensaries in neighboring states such as Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington and bring marijuana back home with them.
After an initial version of the measure was filed last month, the state attorney general’s office sent a letter to the secretary of state outlining various concerns on potential legal issues and making non-binding recommendations for changes. Activists with the Idaho Citizens Coalition have now accepted some, but not all, of the suggestions in a new version of the Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act (PAMDA) that they filed filed on Friday.
We have received our decriminalization initiative back from the Secretary of State's office. We will be reviewing it this evening and posting details for you tonight.
— Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis (@IdahoCann) July 1, 2021
“We didn’t have to take any of the suggestions—but some of them were really good suggestions and we did make those changes,” Russ Belville, a longtime reform advocate who is spearheading this effort, told Marijuana Moment on Friday.
One of the revisions makes it clear that police cannot determine impairment while driving based only on the presence of THC metabolites in a person’s blood stream. Another would clear up the rules on restrictions for adults using marijuana on private property.
The state attorney general expressed concern about another component of the initiative on social sharing, saying it would allow multiple marijuana transactions as long as it involves fewer than three ounces.
“My reaction was, ‘yes—yes, it would,'” Belville said. “And the way I’m defending that…is that’s what people do now. They go in on an ounce, someone drives to Ontario to buy it, they bring it back, they keep their share and they give their other shares away to whoever went in on it. We want to make sure that’s legal.”
In the end, the purpose of the revisions the activists made is to stay in compliance with the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives and avoid any constitutional challenges.
For both this measure and the separate medical cannabis legalization initiative, advocates have until May 1, 2022 to collect about 65,000 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot.
But there is a complication. The governor signed a bill in April that requires a minimum of six percent of voters in all 35 legislative districts in the state to sign a ballot proposal in order for it to qualify, whereas the law previously required that threshold be reached in just 18 districts. Two lawsuits are challenging that policy change in the state Supreme Court, and the result of those legal complaints could decide the fate of either cannabis measure.
Belville told Marijuana Moment last month that this legalization proposal was partly motivated by a Nebraska Supreme Court decision last year to invalidate a voter-approved initiative to legalize medical cannabis based on a statutory single-subject rule.
Under the separate medical cannabis proposal, qualifying patients would be able to purchase and possess up to four ounces of cannabis. Those with a “hardship designation” could also cultivate up to six plants.
The initiative lists twelve conditions that would make a patient eligible for medical cannabis, but it also extends to any terminal disease or severe chronic illness. The state health department would be able to add additional conditions as it sees fit.
Activists in the state attempted to get a virtually identical medical marijuana measure before voters for the 2020 election, but they ultimately ditched the effort due to signature gathering complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s refusal to provide petitioning accommodations.
Read the revised Idaho marijuana legalization measure and attorney general’s comments on the prior version below:
\Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.