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Election 2020: Idaho medical marijuana legalization guide

Published on July 29, 2020 · Last updated September 9, 2020
Medical marijuana advocates in Idaho are still fighting to get their measure on the November 2020 ballot, after being delayed by COVID-19 restrictions on signature gathering in public spaces. (Illustration: Joshua Titus for Leafly)

Latest news on the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act (failed)

Sept. 1 — After a rough fight in federal court, Idaho’s bid to collect signatures past the original deadline has been halted.

“We will not be voting on medical marijuana in 2020,” leaders of the Idaho Cannabis Coalition wrote on their Facebook page. “We will be preparing for our 2022 campaign, now with more financial support, better logistics, lessons learned, and more time. Thank you all for your support and know that we will not stop until Idaho joins the 21st century along with almost all of the states surrounding it and stops punishing patients who use cannabis as medicine.”

The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act (did not make ballot)

Read the full proposal here: The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act

Medical or adult use?


What the law would have done

The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act would legalize possession of marijuana for registered patients, and establish a legal framework for growing, production, testing and retail facilities.

Campaign sponsors

Legalization opponents

Latest polling

  • 73% “strongly” or “somewhat” support medical marijuana, but 57% are opposed to recreational marijuana. (March 2019 poll)

Would dispensaries be licensed?

  • Yes

Would marijuana be taxed, and at what rate?

  • Yes, at 4% plus Idaho sales tax.

5 things to know about the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act

  • The Act would allow patients and their caregivers to possess up to four ounces of marijuana at a time.
  • Most patients would not be permitted to grow marijuana at home unless they qualify for “hardship cultivation exemption – meaning they have a physical, financial, or distance difficulty in acquiring marijuana at a dispensary,” in which case they can grow six cannabis plants in an enclosed, locked facility (a caregiver can help them).
  • The Act would require individuals to have a qualifying condition or a terminal illness in order to become a medical marijuana patient. Those conditions include cancer, PTSD, chronic pain and many more. The Department of Health would be authorized to add more qualifying conditions.
  • The program would permit out-of-state patients, but may require “some form of registration” from them.
  • Tax revenue generated from the program would be split between the Idaho Division of Veterans Services and the state’s General Fund.

Current cannabis law in Idaho

An individual charged with possession of up to three ounces of marijuana (misdemeanor) faces a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Possession between three ounces and a pound (felony) can put you in jail for up to five years, as well as a $10,000 fine.

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Quotes from advocates

  • “The need for medical marijuana access for sick and disabled Idahoans is not going away, and neither are we.” – Russ Belville, spokesperson for Idaho Cannabis Coalition
  • “Every person that takes up this cause, is fighting to create a better world for those with disabilities or illnesses – isn’t it time to see our people heal, Idaho?” – Idaho Cannabis Coalition, via Facebook (Feb 29, 2020)

Quotes from opponents

  • “I think the definition of medical marijuana is problematic to start with…Marijuana is not a medicine, it’s a drug. It’s a mind-altering drug.” – Rep. Jerald Raymond (R)
  • “There are other alternatives to folks…There’s FDA-approved alternatives to people who have conditions that these folks say are improved by [marijuana].” – Tim Allen, spokesperson for Idahoans for Healthy Kids and Communities
  • If Idahoans want legal marijuana, “they elected the wrong guy as governor.” – Gov. Brad Little (R)

Leafly coverage

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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