Surrounded by three states where marijuana is legal, Idaho has remained a staunchly anti-weed island. It even went so far as to pass a resolution in 2013 vowing never to legalize marijuana, for any purpose.
But could the tides finally be turning?
On Thursday, far-right Republican Dorothy Moon introduced legislation in the state’s House Health & Welfare Committee that would allow residents to use cannabidiol oil for medicinal purposes, if prescribed by a licensed practitioner. Residents would have to register with the Idaho Board of Pharmacy, and registrations would need to be renewed every year.
“What this legislation would provide for is the lawful use of cannabidiol oil, or CBD,” said Moon. “It needs to be prescribed by a practitioner, by a physician, and we will have a registration, and then we’ll also make sure this CBD oil was legally obtained, and does not exceed a .3 THC.”
Low THC, high cannabidiol products are legal in 18 states. They have been linked to pain alleviation, skin health, and stress reduction, according to supporters, though there is little independent research on its side effects.
This is not the first attempt at this kind of legislation. In 2015, Idaho lawmakers had actually passed a bill allowing severely epileptic children to use CBD oil, but this was ultimately vetoed by Republican Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, at least in part due to fear that such a law would lead to a loosening of the state’s strict drug laws.
For the proposal to pass this time around, the Health & Welfare Committee must recommend it to the house floor to be read and considered by the House and, if it’s passed in a vote by the state legislature, it must be signed into law by the governor, which is still Otter, who is still staunchly anti-marijuana even for medical use.
Earlier this month, he expressed his opinion on medical marijuana to The Spokesman-Review earlier in January. “When the medical marijuana effort was being made, especially across the Pacific Northwest, I talked to several governors that initially had been in favor of it,” he said. “And when it raised its head in Idaho, in talking with them they said, ‘Don’t do it, it’s a big mistake.’”
Representative Moon has supported previous efforts to promote marijuana products in Idaho, and said in 2017 that she would introduce a bill this year to allow the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes. She is part of an increasing number of Republican lawmakers across the country that support marijuana legalization in some form, mostly for the economic benefits that marijuana presents to their constituencies.
It may be too soon to consider this as a new page turned for marijuana in Idaho.