In my last rant, I mentioned that I was leaving the Shire and traveling across Middle Earth straight into the depths of Mordor, or as modern cartographers refer to it: Idaho.

I was speaking at the Boise Hempfest on Saturday, along with Seattle Hempfest’s Steve Phun, Portland NORML’s Leland Berger, Southern Oregon Alternative Medicine’s Lori Duckworth, and Beverly Hills Cannabis Club’s Cheryl Shuman.

Or, as we call it, our Spring Weed Tolerance Break, as smoking marijuana was not on our hempfest agenda.

I’ve explained repeatedly how in Idaho, you don’t even have to have weed on your person to be a cannabis criminal, you only must have weed in your person. It is a misdemeanor crime in Idaho to be under the influence of a controlled substance in public. The presence of active THC in your bloodstream, which is detectable for days after last use, is a crime everywhere in Idaho but private property not accessible to the public.

The punishment for being high in public in Idaho can be as much as a $1,000 fine and six months in jail*. That’s the same level of punishment one can earn for a first time DUI, first time driving without a license, punching someone in the face, hazing incoming freshmen, counterfeiting keys, hacking computers, intimidating witnesses and committing voter fraud.

If traveling to Idaho is Mordor and Boise is Mount Doom, then Idaho governor and adorable gay sea mammal Butch Otter is the evil Sauron. I’ve told you how he’s the only governor in the nation to veto a cannabidiol (CBD) oil bill to help epileptic children.

Yet, while Gov. Otter believes letting sick kids use a non-psychoactive marijuana derivative “has the potential… to exacerbate health problems… [and] decrease public safety,” he had no problem signing bills that allow helmet-less motorcycle riders to pass cars on the freeway at 94 miles-per-hour and allowing adults to carry concealed firearms anywhere but a school or prison—with no permit or training required.

Idaho Gov Butch Otter

[Editor’s Note: This is what Butch Otter actually looks like… though we prefer to imagine him as a sea mammal.]

So much for public health and safety!

It’s weird what Idaho considers to be safer than marijuana.

Here’s a state that steadfastly refuses to allow oncologists with years of medical school training to recommend cannabis to cancer patients battling the ravages of chemotherapy, but has no problem allowing untrained, unregulated 19-year-olds to serve alcohol.

Somehow, if you smoke a joint inside your home and then go outside in Idaho, you’re an unacceptable risk to yourself and public safety. But if you want to strap a rubber band onto your legs and jump off the bridge that spans the canyon that Evel Knievel once tried to jump on a rocket-bike, you can do that anytime with no permit required.

Somehow, if we let parents treat their epileptic children with a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis, that will lead to an inexorable slippery slope that results in teenage pot zombies shambling through the streets of Boise in search of strains (strains!).

But fireworks shops in Idaho literally have blue and red floors, where the blue side contains the fireworks you can legally buy and use in Idaho and the red side contains the fireworks that are illegal to use in Idaho, but you can legally buy them if you promise (*wink*) to only use them out-of-state where they are legal (and Nevada’s the only neighboring state where they are).

The only thing more terrifying in Idaho than somebody filling their chest with marijuana smoke is a woman baring her chest in a private club.

In the state’s so-called strip clubs, female dancers must remain in bikinis if the club’s untrained, unregulated 19-year-old bartenders are serving alcohol. But not the hard stuff—if there are women in bikinis on stage, it’s beer and wine only, no liquor. If she takes off her top, all the alcohol must go, and if she takes off her bottom, she and the club owner will be punished the same as if they’d been high in public.

And despite the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, Idaho still considers it a crime for two unmarried people or two people not married to each other to have sex, especially anal sex.

The veto pen of Idaho’s evil Sauron isn’t limited to ensuring that epileptic kids continue their life-threatening seizures. For poor people trying to feed their kids, Gov. Sauron vetoed a bill to exempt groceries from the state’s six percent sales tax, explaining that the costs were too high for “the small amount of tax relief it would provide.”

To ensure that we marijuana consumers can still be harassed to the fullest by police, Gov. Sauron vetoed a bill to require a criminal conviction before law enforcement can seize suspects’ property under civil asset forfeiture.

The sales tax repeal, civil forfeiture reform and cannabidiol for kids bills all sailed through the Idaho legislature with broad bipartisan support. So why don’t they just override Gov. Sauron’s vetoes?

Because Idaho is one of only six states where the legislature can’t convene itself to override a veto. Only the governor can call a special session of the legislature that only meets every two years, so the governor just saves all the vetoes up for after the legislature has adjourned.

*In the last rant, I mistakenly read the punishment as a year in jail when it is only six months. My apologies for the error.

Previously in Radical Rant: Nevertheless, Boise Hempfest Persisted
Click here for all of Russ Belville’s columns

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