With public perceptions of marijuana prohibition shifting nationwide, in particular among traditionally anti-drug Republicans and security officials, Idaho could join the number of states loosening drug regulations. In 2006, then-gubernatorial candidate Butch Otter told Reason Magazine, "I still support medical marijuana," though he told BW more recently that he did not think Idaho would ever legalize and that he was not "desperate" enough for new revenue to pursue it. The Idaho Republican Party debated legalization last year, the citizens of Hailey voted twice in favor of three different cannabis initiatives, and budget woes have lawmakers scrambling for new sources of revenue. Rep. Tom Trail (R-Moscow) says there is currently no way to track the amount of marijuana grown in Idaho. California's annual marijuana yield is often valued at $14 billion, nearly double the value of the state's vegetable and grape crops combined. The Web site marijuanalobby.org estimates that Idaho could net $12.4 million in new revenue from an 8 percent tax on medicinal marijuana and license fees. Since 1996, voters have been in favor of ballot initiatives removing criminal penalties for growing or possessing medical marijuana in Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. State legislators in Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont have passed medical marijuana laws. Massachusetts' voters decriminalized personal possession, and recently New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana. Though he often votes with Democrats, Trail's party affiliation and tenure in the Legislature have afforded him chairmanship of the Agricultural Affairs Committee. After three previous tries to allow growing industrial hemp in Idaho, Trail has shifted his focus to medical marijuana, which, as his bill posits, "humanitarian compassion necessitates" for sick constituents. Trails fourth attempt failed at a 5-5 tie vote. Trail's draft bill seeks protection for qualified patients to smoke marijuana, and for designated providers and licensed physicians to grow and possess medical marijuana. Nonmedical acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale or use would remain illegal. The state would not be liable for ill effects of medical use and patients would be limited to 60-day supplies. Sitting at his corner cubicle in the temporary Chairmen's Suite before the close of the 2009 legislative session, the soft-spoken Trail described the plight of Moscow residents forced by Idaho law to travel to doctors in Washington, and then risk traveling back across state lines in possession of illegal medicine. Less than 3 ounces is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. More than 3 ounces is a felony, five years and a fine up to $10,000. The question now is whether Trail and the movement can convince state legislators to define and protect medical use of marijuana. The Marijuana Policy Project, a fast-growing drug reform group, does not expect medical marijuana dispensaries to be politically viable in Idaho. In November 2008, Trail requested an opinion from the Idaho Attorney General's Office on an early draft of his medical marijuana legislation. Deputy Attorney General William A. von Tagen responded in December 2008 with a preliminary opinion concluding that Trail's bill would be pre-empted by federal law. The bill "would most likely be found to be in conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act," von Tagen wrote. In June 2008, the Idaho Republican platform committee considered making marijuana legal. Then a resolution surfaced to keep it illegal and use the full weight of the law to enforce prohibition. "I was part of a group who said we should not treat them as criminals," Rep. Steven Thayn said. "I got ribbed for opposing the anti-marijuana resolution, but not too much. I'm LDS, so I don't drink alcohol or use any illegal drugs. It is certainly not something I'm trying to be out front on. I don't think Idaho is ready." The final Idaho Republican platform adopted June 14, 2008, states, "We call upon our national, state and local leaders to refocus efforts in the war on drugs. We support creative alternative sentencing, such as drug courts, and treatment for non-violent offenders." Still, the GOP-dominated Idaho Legislature voted in 2009 to cut $2.1 million for statewide substance abuse treatment. According to a recent National Public Radio report, medical marijuana produced more than $100 million in tax revenue for the state of California in 2007. On a much smaller scale, Nevada charges patients $50 for state ID application materials and then another $150 for processing. Colorado charges patients $90 to apply to their program. New Mexico has finalized regulations for state-licensed, nonprofit medical marijuana providers, making it the first state to do so. "Decriminalization really has no effect on the number of prosecutions or number of prisoners," Miron said. "The charges for which decriminalization might have been relevant do not lead to trials or jail time." From 2005 to 2007, Idaho State Police arrests involving seizure of marijuana increased from 3,202 to 4,030. Though Trail is not angling for an economic boon to the state, he may be successful in Idaho because of the Republican compassion platform, the states' rights argument and the potential savings to the state. Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul and Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank do not agree on much else, but they agree the drug war is a failure. In Idaho, it looks like the fight has begun with medical use. Davidson calls religious conservatives like Thayn brave. "There's a lot of pressure in that community not to be soft on drugs, and that's why it won't get legalized anytime soon. It's also part of the position on hemp. You've got a large contingent that it may give the wrong impression to kids," he said. Steve D'Avanzo, owner of Treasure Valley Smoke Shop, doesn't think he will be selling marijuana any time in the foreseeable future. "I'm sure that if Idaho ever legalized marijuana, they would have some sort of state store to dispense it," he said. "I don't think it would be something they would introduce to the retail market." Davidson also expressed skepticism about the political process in Idaho. "Butch was taking principled stands on stuff, like the Patriot Act. When he voted against it, he was like a hero, but now everyone feels like he's kind of a sellout ... I assume if the Legislature passed it, he would sign it, but nothing is about what you believe in. Are you strong enough to risk donors to do what you believe in?"
8/30/2010 08:54:22 am
when is the next vote for medical marijuana in Idaho we can't find it any where please help
9/1/2010 06:08:12 pm
Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, has been working on the issue for about two years and plans to introduce legislation in the 2011 session. Before that happens, he’ll be able to gauge what other Idaho Republicans think of the idea at the party’s convention next week in Idaho Falls, when he floats a proposed resolution to delegates.
11/1/2010 08:30:57 am
I think that this war is one that is stupid. As long as its regulated and properly maintained in the same way that alcohol is, all i see right now is potential money for the state and residents of the state going to other places. Everyone who thinks the war on drugs, more so the war on marijuana, is being won.... open your eyes and lets clean up a messy situation. Make this safe and lets learn to profit from this. The facts are out there!
12/14/2010 04:08:38 am
Being a victim of chronic pain for over 15 years, i am ready to get behind new legislation to allow patients like myself access to medical marijuana. State revenue would be great, but the larger issue at hand is that patients who are suffering on a daily basis could find relief from their symptoms. they could actually increase their quality of life dramatically. i know that medical marijuana has changed my life drastically. Not only do I feel better, but I am no longer addicted to narcotic pain medications.
1/15/2011 04:55:45 am
I live in idaho.there is no medicaal marijuana laws. I also have stomach and joint pain which.is.hereditary. when I lived in oregon I had a card and.ibfelt so much.better and I.votbto the point with medical marijauana that.I dis norbhave to use.prescription.narcotics.for pain.and could have a.betterblife with my family
1/27/2011 06:23:17 pm
legalize mary jane for us with pain in Idaho please we need help plus ya can t tax it and make lots of money for the state..its a win win...im tired of all the pills doesnt help pot does. Pass the bils please pass the bill
2/4/2011 01:04:52 pm
I'm not smoker, yet I feel strongly about legalization of marijuana. It needs to be treated like alcohol - one should never be impaired behind the wheel. I'm actually rather surprised that alcohol is legal, yet pot is not. One should not go to work drunk, or stoned if this natural plant was legal. If only legalized for medicinal use - certainly would be a lot safer and healthier for people with conditions that would benefit, rather than the high priced synthetic drugs available and used. For the sake of patients and people who would benefit from use of weed, I will be voting YES on any ballot to legalize it.
2/17/2011 06:29:58 am
I am a united states marine combat veteran of OIF and OEF. My last tour to Afghanistan I was severely wounded in combat. I was shot in the right hip and the bullet lodged itself into my spine. Due to the sensitivity of the area not all of the fragments of the projectile were removed. It has been over a year now and I still experience excruciating pain in my lower back. Marijuana seems trouble be the only "medication" that helps the pain to a manageable level while still leaving me in a coherent state. Its freedom. BK when you rely on prescription narcodics that wear you down and keep you in a state where you can't function as a regular member of society you truely are trapped. Marijuana is natural and when used with a vaporizer clean and only beneficial to someone in my circumstances. For those who suffer, legalizing a treatment as successful as medical marijuana can be, is the only thing that is right to do. Do the right thing and help someone in pain by voting whenever the opportunity comes to legalize medical marijuana for medical purposes.
2/19/2011 08:10:51 am
Hello everyone it's your webmaster here to thank you all for your comments and offer an update on Idaho's Medical Marijuan Bill!
3/1/2011 09:29:19 pm
legalize marijuana put taxes on it like cigerettes and beer look at california they made more money on putting taxes on it then they ever did on there fields that they grow cotton and vegies in one year thats good since idaho looks up to califorina on eveything.if you read on a lot of things that Idaho uses warning in the state of califorina this product may cause cancer of other health problems.learn of cali since you follow then legalize it and make money on it.
3/2/2011 04:55:10 pm
Your webmaster here again:
3/17/2011 02:12:38 am
i live in Idaho and i got back problems and i know ppl who tell me that marijuana wont help but i know it does for a fact and it helps me with my stress problems s owe need to get something gain so we at least have a age limit and a tax because in my mind its less dangerous than alcohol is
3/18/2011 08:20:50 am
yes we need to RE-LEGALIZE, im tired of feeling like a criminal in society jst because of you're laws. I have been useing marijuana for the better part of 13 years now and beleive there is nothing but to benifit from cannabis. I use it for stress releife, body aches from working, and just an all around remedy to make me a better person. Ive tried to not use and find that my stress is constant, body aches never go away i become irratable and yell at my kids more than needed, but let me have a bowl or two and it all goes away the stress the pain and the shittyness.
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