BOISE — We’re just days away from inaugurating a new governor and beginning a new legislative session, and there is a renewed push by some Idahoans to soften marijuana laws in the state.
Legalization of marijuana here in the Gem State has been a controversial topic for years. Now, after Utah's legalization of medical marijuana, all six of Idaho's neighboring states have legalized the drug in some form, leaving eyes fixed on our legislative session.
Wayne Hoffman, President of the Idaho Freedom Foundation said, "If what we're trying to achieve is to lock up elderly cancer victims, who happen to go across the border and buy some marijuana, that's the policy we have in place today."
Which is an argument posed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation. They believe now is the time to have a discussion on what Idaho's public policy is, and what we want it to be moving forward n regards to marijuana legalization.
Jasper Licalzi, a Professor at the College of Idaho said, "Thirty states have medicinal marijuana, Idaho doesn't even allow the CBD oil, I think that made a step last time, and people are starting to get comfortable with it, especially when they hear stories about how effective it can be, especially with young children."
And while its usefulness may be making progress in the minds of the people, "People are starting to recognize that there are more dangerous things out there. Alcohol is more dangerous. Opioids are more dangerous," said Hoffman.
Its progress in the legislature has been at somewhat of a standstill, "When it comes to our laws, they are outdated, and the legislature is going to have to take some steps to recognize that this is a growing problem," said Hoffman.
Wiith the recent signing of the farm bill, which allows the cultivation of hemp, Idaho is again left lagging behind a national trend.
“In order for Idaho to take advantage of this new law, the state is going to have to do something. If we do nothing, we will not be able to join the ranks of these other states that are cultivating hemp," said Hoffman.
But the Idaho Freedom Foundation doesn't have a sole purpose to legalize the drug, Hoffman said, “We could talk about decriminalization. You don't have to necessarily legalize marijuana, but you could decriminalize possession of small amounts for example."
Which would make it less difficult for those folks who purchase marijuana legally to travel through the Gem State.
Hoffman says the Idaho Freedom Foundation's work to decriminalize the drug will be one of their initiatives in the legislative session which begins on Tuesday.