With marijuana legalization sweeping across the USA, many businesses are eager to get in on the action. Marijuana is quite a lucrative business and failure to permit its legitimacy is a grave error at the State level. If marijuana is illegal in a state, people will simply move to another state where it legalized. It is the same as if alcohol were banned in one state and permissible in all others. Obviously, people who like alcoholic beverages would move. The same will be the case for States that fail to legalize marijuana, and such states will certainly lose valuable revenue as citizens move out and tourism declines. Three States bordering Idaho have legalized marijuana, so it is even easier for people to make the move if Idaho is slow to action.
Legalization in Idaho
At present, 8 states have legalized recreational marijuana. These states are Colorado, Washington, California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states. Thus far, Idaho has exhibited stiff opposition against all forms of marijuana legalization. Neither recreational nor medical use is permissible in Idaho.
Currently, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor up to 3 ounces, and a felony for possession of more. In 2015 Governor Otter vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to use non-psychoactive CBD oil to treat seizures, but created state-controlled CBD oil experiment treating three dozen children with severe seizures. This move has been met with severe criticism and scrutiny. However harmless THC is, CBD is even more benign. It is not psychoactive and has been proven to be effective in the treatment of seizure related illnesses. Stigma and lack of awareness are the main enemies of medical progress, and these types of moves destroys lives, quite literally. The state Department of Health and Welfare is asking lawmakers to approve $26,800 during next year’s legislative session to fund the tests for another year, as the drug is taking longer than expected to be approved for wider use federally.
But to be fair, the situation in Idaho is not just down to ill-informed and possibly corrupt moves by politicians, like states such as Pennsylvania with strict restrictions on permits and growing operations. The people of Idaho are very resistant to marijuana legalization in general. Politicians can be criticised for failing to represent the views of the people which is often the case, but need to be applauded when they actually do what the populace desires. And in Idaho it seems that the populace is firmly anti-marijuana.
An Anti-Marijuana State?
Attempts in Idaho to get ballot initiatives to liberalize marijuana laws, which have worked in many states to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, have so far failed to gain traction. There have been three attempts in recent years to gather signatures to put medical marijuana on the ballot — two didn’t get enough signatures and the organizers withdrew one early over problems with its wording.
The opposition to marijuana is not at all down to political factors. Both the left and right are agreed that marijuana is not something for Idaho. However, there is widespread support for reducing the penalties for possession and for illegally dealing marijuana. The views in relation to medical marijuana are also softening somewhat and legislators are becoming more and more open to the idea. But as far as recreational marijuana is concerned, it has not been given any credibility and it will definitely be a few more years before it gets legalized.
Some of the reasons cited by legislators for opposition to recreational marijuana are that it comes with its own set of problems. There are issues in relation to enforcement of the laws pertaining to recreational marijuana. And there may actually be some merit to these claims. California is a case in point. There is a huge oversupply of recreational marijuana in anticipation of January 2018, where it will be available from shops. There are also thousands of illegal growing operations, far more than can be investigated by local police officers who have to focus on large scale growth operations. And the environmental cost of illegal growth operations is massive, with growers actually going as far as to divert rivers. Many of these illegal growth operations are completed by illegal immigrants, which California is a hotspot for, and are said to contain an incredible amount of toxins which the public is unaware of amid massive pro marijuana sentiment.
Wait and See
Despite all the misgivings and complications, recreational marijuana will most likely become a reality in Idaho at some stage, most probably after it has let other states experiment with the fallout of marijuana legalization. It can be said to be an intelligent outlook in many respects, letting other states be the first to the front line and learning from their costly mistakes. With regard to medical marijuana however the case is quite different, and while citing “societal difficulties” patients are dying from lack of access to harmless substances such as THC and CBD. This has to end and medical marijuana will most likely become a reality in Idaho within two years, or there will at least be an allowance for CBD oil to treat seizure related conditions.