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Idaho Medical Marijuana Legalization Effort Goes Up in Smoke


The Idaho Medical Marijuana Association failed to obtain the required 56,000 valid signatures by April 30 to secure a spot on the November ballot to push medical marijuana further. The group lacked the funding necessary to collect enough signatures. Prior to having to abandon efforts to attend to a family matter, president of the group Tesla Gillespie, says she doesn’t know how many signatures the group even had.

The group wasn’t well-organized or united enough to maintain their efforts, The Spokesman-Review reports.  Idaho remains a state with some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country. Idaho voters have never had the opportunity to vote on medical marijuana.

Gillespie said, “This is something I’ve never done in my life. I have no experience.”

On three separate occasions, efforts to legalize medical marijuana, two failed to gain enough signatures and the third was withdrawn prior to signatures being counted. The most recently proposed initiative in 2016 would have had strict limits, including low patient-to-provider ratios to control the number of dispensaries in the state.

The Idaho Medical Marijuana Associations’ proposal would have limited providers to just three patients. These limits would have caused the industry to fail as three patients per provider is not sufficient revenue to sustain the business.

Chis Lindsey of MPP says this year’s attempt was similar to legislation drafted for Idaho in 2010.

Lindsey said, “The timeline is that these laws started heavy on individual protections with barely a mention of business.”

Morgan Fox of MPP said that MPP worked with Representative Tom Trail on several medical marijuana bills in 2010 – but those bills were doomed from the start. MPP’s support in Idaho has been minimal and it isn’t putting much effort into helping with the most recent initiative – but is keeping an eye on the state.

Fox said, “While public support (in Idaho) may be increasing, the Legislature, governor and law enforcement are all heavily opposed to even extremely limited CBD bills, let alone a comprehensive medical marijuana program. This makes achieving substantive marijuana policy reform more difficult in Idaho than most states.”

For an initiative to make it to Idaho voters, it must have signatures from 6-percent of the registered voters in at least 18 legislative districts.

Chief Deputy Secretary of State Timothy Hurst said, “The medical marijuana issue has been around for years but apparently there is either not the support for legalizing it or (as this year) the petition gatherers are not willing to do the work to get the required number of signatures. I’m sure the distribution requirements make gathering signatures more difficult, but that was the intent.”

The political climate and funding for viable marijuana reform initiatives require change in Idaho for the next attempt to be successful.