CBD and Cannabis History: Idaho
Idaho has always been one of the toughest states against all types of substance use. Whether it’s for recreational or medical purposes, Idaho officials maintain that cannabis is completely illegal and even miniscule amounts can incur a misdemeanor.
Currently, an individual charged with possession of under one ounce can face a year of jail time and a $1000 fine. Unfortunately, these laws hit minority communities much more harshly than white offenders, leading to a recent uproar throughout many urban communities over the past year.
So, how and why has Idaho stuck to it’s harsh stance concerning everything cannabis related?
Cannabis and Idaho
The nationwide trend towards harsher regulation started in the early twentieth century, causing the state to completely outlaw the drug in 1927. At that same time, the mayor of Boise noted extreme concern over the “new problem of pipes of marijuana [that’s as] demoralizing as the use of narcotics.”
Since then, laws restricting consumer access to cannabis products have gotten harsher. During the War on Drugs throughout the seventies, Idaho officials were some of the harshest and most consistent on prosecuting minor drug crimes.
According to statistics published by the ACLU, black Idahoans are over two and a half times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession. In 2018, this widely publicized report kicked off a bipartisan effort to reduce penalties for cannabis possession let by republican Rep. Eric Redman and democrat John Gannon.
All of these efforts were part of a larger set of unsuccessful ballot initiatives that attempted to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana.
In 2015, Senate Bill 1146a would have legalized CBD oil for individuals with severe epilepsy. After several lengthy and emotional appeals for epilepsy sufferers and their family, the bill was ultimately vetoed by Governer Butch Otter in April.
Since then, even THC-free CBD oil has occupied a legal gray area throughout Idaho. However, vendors and consumers openly use the substance without fear of legal repercussions since it’s legal on the federal level.
Health officials and the Department of Agriculture have maintained that hemp agriculturalists are unwelcome in the state of Idaho. Though hemp may be legal federally, states can have their own laws which serve to completely suffocate the market.
This year, the legislature came close to converging on a comprehensive marijuana policy and cannabis reform bill. However, the bill fell just short of passage, which has prompted voters to start mass-signing a petition advocating for decreased regulation.
Voters may have their chance in the 2020 legislative session to align more closely to established federal regulation concerning CBD. Now, a majority of Idahoans support full legalization compared to a measly 20 percent support just fifteen years prior.