Idaho officials approved a medical marijuana legalization initiative for signature gathering on Friday, one of the first steps necessary to get the proposal on the state’s 2020 ballot.
An association of volunteer organizations, known as the Idaho Cannabis Coalition (ICC), is working to advance the measure. In order to put the question before voters next year, organizers must collect 55,057 valid signatures, including those from at least six percent of voters in 18 out of 35 legislative districts in the state.
ICC confirmed that the secretary of state “has given the final OK for us to begin collecting signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act” in a Facebook post that solicited help with the signature gathering process.
Longtime reform advocate Russ Belville is serving as ICC’s spokesperson. His father, a 77-year-old Idaho resident who suffers from chronic neuropathy, is the chief petitioner. Belville said that part of the inspiration for the campaign is his dad’s experience finding relief from his pain with a cannabis tincture during a visit to neighboring Oregon. Currently, his treatment options are limited to potent opioid-based painkillers.
“We have secured funding commitments for a professional signature gathering campaign, in addition to our volunteers throughout the state, to collect the 55,057 signatures necessary,” Belville told Marijuana Moment in an email. Those signatures must be submitted by April 30, 2020.
According to Belville, ICC’s polling shows that three-in-four Idaho residents support legalizing medical marijuana, and that support increases when voters are further educated about the initiative.
The group submitted the final version of the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act of 2020 to the secretary of state in July, incorporating technical edits to an earlier version as recommended by the attorney general.
As more states are moving ahead and pursuing adult-use legalization, Idaho stands out as one of the only remaining states that have not implemented any kind of medical cannabis program.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.