Idahoans could vote on whether medical marijuana should become legal

Idaho

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BOISE — A ballot initiative could put medical marijuana legalization to a vote of the people.

A ballot initiative is making its way through Idaho’s Secretary of State’s Office. If approved by six percent of the population, medical marijuana legalization will go on the 2020 ballot.

“We’re coming forth with a common sense initiative that’s very similar to the middle of the road initiatives — middle of the road medical marijuana programs that exist in almost every state now,” Idaho Cannabis Coalition spokesperson Russ Belville told EastIdahoNews.com.

The Idaho Cannabis Coalition is the organization behind the ballot initiative.

Belville said he is originally from Idaho but moved to Oregon so his wife could have access to medical marijuana to treat a medical condition. However, he still has family in Idaho who he says could benefit from medical marijuana.

“My primary motivation is that my 77-year-old father has chronic neuropathy and is on oxycontin to treat that and its shut down his kidney’s and other organs. I’d kinda like my dad to be able to stick around for a few more years and I find it pretty offensive that he can trade his oxycontin for medical cannabis that everybody in any state around him can use,” Belville said.

He said some polls have shown four out of five Idahoans agree with medical marijuana. He is confident they could get the six percent of the population needed to put the initiative on the 2020 ballot. However, a bill currently making its way through the legislature could change that.

A bill originating in the Idaho Senate, sponsored by Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, would change the six percent of required signatures to 10 percent from 32 out of the 35 legislative districts instead of the current 18.

The bill narrowly passed the Senate with a vote of 18 to 17 on Friday. It now moves on to the House.

“I’d be afraid if I was on either side of the aisle on an issue with (this bill) because it’s taking a constitutional right away from Idahoans to make their own laws when the legislature won’t act,” Belville said.

The ballot initiative is currently being reviewed by the Idaho Secretary of State. Once approved, the Idaho Cannabis Coalition will begin gathering signatures.

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