Idaho Voters May Get Say on Medical Marijuana in 2020

State lawmakers have given Idaho marijuana advocates until April 30, 2020 to collect enough signatures to place a measure to legalize medical marijuana on the 2020 election ballot.

Idaho could be one of the next states to legalize medical marijuana. Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced this week that a petition to place a measure asking voters if they want to create a legal medical marijuana program cleared all requirements.

The next step for medical marijuana advocates is to gather enough signatures by April 30, 2020 for the measure to be placed on the November 2020 ballot. The group that started the medical marijuana petition is the Idaho Cannabis Coalition.

“I think the people of Idaho are ready to allow sick and disabled adults to possess and use a non-toxic plant, and even grow it themselves if they have the need,” said Russ Belville, spokesperson for the Idaho Cannabis Coalition.

According to news reports from the Idaho Statesman, the coalition needs at least 55,057 signatures from registered voters to get an initiative on the state’s election ballot next year. Those signatures must include at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts and signatures from at least 6 percent of registered voters from each district.

“When you look at a map of states based on their acceptance of marijuana, Idaho stands out as Prohibition Island,” the Idaho Cannabis Coalition stated in a press release. “The state in which one lives should not subject one to unnecessary suffering.”

The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act petition would establish a registry of patients, caregivers, and growers also known under the act as “agents” to possess or use medical cannabis. The act would allow agents to possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana and up to six plants.

Those who qualify to register for medical marijuana would have to be at least 18 years old or have the consent of their parents. The agency in charge of the program would be the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

If Idaho voters do get the chance to vote in the ballot initiative and it passes, the state will join 33 other states and the District of Columbia in establishing medical marijuana programs. Idaho’s full medical marijuana initiative can be viewed here.

Idaho’s Current Cannabis Laws

Idaho is known to be one of the more intolerant states when it comes to marijuana. Under current Idaho marijuana laws, possession of less than 3 ounces of cannabis could be considered a misdemeanor, with a 1-year incarceration tern and $1,000 fine.

By pleading guilty to their drug offense, first time offenders can avoid jail time, but the conditional pardon can come with 100 hours of community service. Those caught with more than 3 ounces of cannabis could be charged with a felony and face prison terms ranging from 1 to 15 years and fines as high as $50,000. Idaho still authorizes minimum mandatory sentences for cannabis.

Anyone caught cultivating plants faces a harsh punishment of up to 5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Those caught selling or distributing cannabis could also face up to 5 years incarceration.

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