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Idaho Officials Clear Marijuana Activists To Collect Signatures For Revised Legalization Ballot Measure

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Idaho officials have cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot.

After being reviewed by the state attorney general’s office, the latest version of the measure was uploaded to the secretary of state’s website on Wednesday in final form along with official short and long ballot titles.

Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for next year’s ballot.

The attorney general previously outlined a number concerns on potential legal issues with the adult-use measure and made non-binding recommendations for changes. Activists with the Idaho Citizens Coalition accepted some, but not all, of the suggestions in the latest version of the Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act (PAMDA).

“We’re excited to get started with this initiative,” Russ Belville, a longtime reform advocate who is spearheading this latest legalization effort, told Marijuana Moment. He added that the campaign will be participating in events for signature collection such as the Hyde Park Street Fair in Boise in September.

The legalization initiative would be fairly limited in scope compared to those that have passed in other states. 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. The idea is for consumers to be able to buy cannabis in neighboring states that have legal retail operations and then bring the product back to Idaho to be consumed privately at home.

“All we’re asking [voters] to do is to accept what people were already doing: driving across the border legally purchasing marijuana and bringing it home to smoke,” Belville said. “If Idaho still wants to give away the tax money, that’s fine. But we shouldn’t spend more tax money trying to arrest people in a futile attempt to stop them from” consuming cannabis.

The purpose of the revisions that the activists made after the attorney general’s review was to stay in compliance with the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives and avoid any constitutional challenges.

Advocates now have until May 1, 2022 to collect about 65,000 valid signatures from registered voters to put the measure on 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 previously told Marijuana Moment that this 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.

Activists in the state attempted to get a 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 Idaho marijuana legalization initiative below: 

PAMDA by Marijuana Moment

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