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Malheur County sees record marijuana sales in March fueled by Idaho

Posted at 3:15 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:07:04-04

BOISE, Idaho — Malheur County set a new record in March surpassing ten million dollars in cannabis sales, it was the second-most in the state of Oregon behind the county with Portland.

Per capital Malheur County blows everybody else out of the water with the average adult spending $19.12, the second-highest in the state came it ant $3.5 and that shows how Idahoans are driving this business in eastern Oregon, these numbers come from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Here is a story map that looks at some of our coverage over the years:

The numbers in Oregon have organizations like the Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis pushing for legalization in Idaho, here is a recent poll on marijuana from the Hill-HarrisX.

"It’s pretty obvious that the southwestern Idaho area is what is supporting sales and what it tells me is that Idahoans are ready for legalized marijuana," said Russ Belville of the Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis. But the road to legalization here is much more difficult than probably any other state in the nation except maybe Kansas."

Several groups oppose legalizing marijuana including the Idaho legislature, I spoke with a local substance abuse coordinator in Meridian who opposes cannabis and says Idaho should look at the impact marijuana has had in other states and we also spoke with the executive director of the Community Coalitions of Idaho.

"I just think that people really need to educate themselves on the issues of marijuana and they need to not be so easily swayed by calling it medicine," said David Phillips of the Community Coalitions of Idaho. "We don’t vote on medicine so if they want to call it medicine it needs to be legalized the right way, it needs to go through the FDA."

Idaho is one of six states in the nation where marijuana is illegal in all forms with the dark green states representing states where marijuana is fully legal.

"The road to legalization here is much more difficult than probably any other state in the nation except maybe Kansas," said Belville.

Senate Bill 1110 would make it harder for groups like the Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis to get a voter initiative on the ballot, SB 1110 has passed the house and the senate and currently sits on Governor Little's desk.

Idaho is currently in a strange situation because people in the Treasure Valley can travel a short distance and legally buy marijuana, but if they bring it back across the border they are breaking the law.

"I think that the people of Idaho would want to bring that tax money back," said Belville. "They are bringing that marijuana back you might as well have that tax money.”

But Phillips disagreed and he tells a personal story of moving from southern California to Idaho two years ago to live in a place without marijuana, he said California certainly has its share of problems, but he pointed to marijuana adding more problems in Rialto where he grew up.

"You are going to see more problems with criminal activity and you are going to smell it," said Phillips. "I worked hard to make my community better and I was told if you don’t like it leave, so I did,"

This figures to be a contentious issue for years especially as more dominoes surrounding Idaho continue to fall. In 2018, Utah voters passed an initiative to allow medical marijuana.