Idaho is quite the outlier in terms of marijuana legislation. At present, both medical and recreational marijuana are still illegal in the state even though it is surrounded by four major pro-weed states, namely Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. The Gem State is so adamant in resisting marijuana reform that its Legislature even approved a resolution in 2013 opposing legalization Even more bizarre is the fact that even the possession of hemp and CBD could result in a misdemeanor under certain circumstances.
However, marijuana activists have pointed out that the attitude of Idahoans towards cannabis seems to be changing. A poll from last year suggests that as much as 73% now support the legalization of medical marijuana. There had been a few attempts to field ballot initiatives to vote on medical marijuana since 2012, and unfortunately, efforts for this year seems to have been derailed by the Covid outbreak.
Republicans torpedo legalization
After the failed signature-gathering campaign of the Idaho Cannabis Coalition last April, the state’s Republican-dominated Senate voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the legalization of marijuana and other psychoactive drugs. However, the legislation still needs the approval of two-thirds majority for it to go before voters in 2022 where it would only need a simple majority.
The failed campaign would have allowed patients access to medical cannabis by a physician’s recommendation and give them the right to possess up to four ounces and grow as many as six plants.
Overview of Idaho Marijuana Laws
In 2013, Idaho lawmakers made it clear that they stood firmly against marijuana by approving Senate Concurrent Resolution 112. Idaho marijuana laws are so restrictive that there is still no legislation that formally legalizes CBD. According to Idaho code S37-2701(t), CBD is only legal in Idaho if it contains zero THC, which somewhat ignores allowances granted by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, the police seem to be aware that it won’t be able to enforce these highly inhibitory rules down to the letter.
- Possession – Possession for personal use of up to 3 ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000. Anything more than 3 ounces but less than 1 pound is a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. However, if intent to distribute can be proven, the possession is automatically charged as a felony which receives the following penalties:
- Up to one pound or up to 24 plants – up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $15,000.
- Sale – Sale, delivery, and cultivation of marijuana are automatically charged as felonies. Penalties increase along with the amount of marijuana involved in the offense.
- More than one pound or more than 25 plants charged with trafficking – up to 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $50,000. This is the maximum penalty for marijuana trafficking charges
- One pound to less than 5 lbs or 25 to 49 plants – up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of at least $5000.
- 5 lbs but less than 25 lbs or 50 to 99 plants – at least 3 years imprisonment and a fine of at least $10,000.
- More than 25 lbs or 100 plants or more – at least 5 years imprisonment and a fine of at least $15,000. Same penalty applies if the offense involves the presence of a minor under the age of 18.
- Cultivation – Penalties for growing marijuana in Idaho is based on the amount involved and are the same as those for sale and delivery offenses. Additionally, a conviction for cultivation may get a mandatory minimum of 3 years to life imprisonment. if the offense is within 10 years of a conviction in any U.S. territory for an offense related to controlled substance dealing, selling, or trafficking was punishable by imprisonment of more than one year.
History of Marijuana in Idaho
For a state surrounded by weed-loving neighbors, Idaho is putting up quite a fight against marijuana. What is surprising though is its staunch resistance against medical marijuana, even after its conservative neighbor Utah had already legalized it. which can be seen on the website of Idaho’s Office of Drug Policy where it adamantly sticks by the FDA’s stance on CBD and the federal government’s marijuana policy.
At present, the Gem State is one of the last two states with no medical marijuana law of any kind. It turned against cannabis in 1927 during the wave of prohibition that swept the US and for a bad reason. Around this time, Mexican laborers started coming into the state and powerful interests attempted to paint a bad picture showing “locoweed” driving brown immigrants into homicidal mania.
Failed medical cannabis initiatives
Since then, marijuana reform barely trickled into Idaho. This is not to say that there had been no attempts. Around 2012 and 2014, at a time when most other states were already legalizing medical cannabis, two initiatives failed to get the necessary number of signatures to make it to the ballot. In 2016, another initiative was withdrawn even before the signatures could be counted while a 2018 attempt had to be ended abruptly by the organizer.
Otter vetoes CBD legalization
In the last decade, it was painfully obvious that Idahoans were still too conservative to accept marijuana. A large number of residents are religious, with 24% being Mormons. Most are objecting to marijuana based on its morality instead of recognizing it as a social justice or health care issue. Similarly, lawmakers maintained their stiff stance by backing Senate Concurrent Resolution 112 which basically opposes all forms of legalization. This opposition seems to be based on the fear that permitting some form of marijuana might lead to drug use and reduce the perception of harm among the youth.
Even CBD did not escape this repressive conservatism. In 2015, SB 1146a, a bill that would have legalized CBD oil for those with severe epilepsy, managed to pass the Idaho Legislature. However, it was vetoed by Governor Butch Otter who seemed more worried about the bill acting as a gateway for legalization than giving children with life-threatening seizures legal access to non-psychotropic hemp oil.
Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Idaho
How do Idaho marijuana laws compare with home growing laws in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.
FAQs about marijuana legalization in Idaho
No, adult-use cannabis is still illegal in Idaho.
None. Home cultivation of recreational cannabis is not allowed in Idaho.
No, medical cannabis is still illegal in Idaho.
The most recent effort by marijuana activists to legalize medical use was cut short by the COVID outbreak. Unfortunately, the Idaho Cannabis Coalition was unable to successfully complete its signature gathering campaign to get its initiative to this year’s November ballot.
None. Home cultivation of medical cannabis is not allowed in Idaho.
Residents are not allowed to cultivate marijuana, whether recreational or medical, at home in Idaho.
Growing marijuana in Idaho is strictly illegal for residents of all ages.
Utah’s move to legalize medical marijuana might prompt Idaho to take a good hard look at its stance on the issue. However, it may take a few years before Idahoans’ attitude towards weed change enough that it can make an impact on current Idaho marijuana laws. Given that even CBD is still illegal in the state, it’s highly unlikely that Idaho lawmakers would give home cultivation the green light if ever the laws do change.