History seems to be repeating itself in Boise, where a bill to legalize CBD oil in Idaho has been stalled. Talks over HB 577, which would allow registered patients to obtain cannabidiol, broke down in a hearing on Monday. The tumultuous events culminated in a motion to hold the bill in committee, a decision that effectively halts any progress on the bill for the remainder of the year.
Frozen In Place
This isn’t the first time Idaho lawmakers have attempted to legalize CBD oil. In 2015, Idaho legislators passed a bill allowing children with severe forms of epilepsy to use CBD oil.
But the incumbent governor, Republican C.L. “Butch” Otter, vetoed the bill under pressure from law enforcement groups.
The veto effectively robbed epileptic children of access to safe, effective medicine. Since the veto, Otter has repeatedly stated that his position remains unchanged.
On Monday, Republican state senator Tony Potts requested a hearing for HB 577 before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Potts’ request came after the bill’s supporters said leaders in the state legislature were stonewalling them.
HB 577 passed the Idaho House of Representatives on February 28 with a vote of 59-11. A week ago, it seemed a vote in the Senate was likely. Now, however, it’s unlikely the Senate will vote on the bill this year.
This turn of events is no doubt a setback for supporters of the bill. The 59-11 House vote meant the bill had a veto-proof majority.
All it needed to pass was a majority vote in the Senate. And the fact that the bill came so close to passing likely accounts for the turmoil that broke out when Potts requested the hearing.
After Turmoil In The Legislature, A Bill To Legalize CBD Oil In Idaho Has Been Stalled For The Rest Of The Year
“I think we have to remember that we represent people, people who vote for us, people who are our friends. If your constituents are anything like mine, there is a large amount of individuals who desire the health benefits of CBD oil,” Potts said on Monday. Sen. Potts has a closer connection to the issue than most. His child suffers from seizures and his family wants to use CBD oil to treat them.
But Potts’ motion was struck down by committee Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls. Heider appeared so distressed at the request, that he demanded the conversation move to his office.
Heider then denied requests by reporters with The Associated Press to sit in on the discussion. But according to the AP, reporters could hear Heider yelling at fellow committee members through the door.
“The governor’s office doesn’t want this bill, the prosecutors don’t want this bill, the office on drug policy doesn’t want this bill,” Heider said. Other state lawmakers could be heard defending Potts’ motion and calling for a debate.
Final Hit: A Bill To Legalize CBD Oil In Idaho Has Been Stalled
Eventually, reporters reminded lawmakers that their closed-door meeting was breaking Idaho’s Open Meeting Law. Once committee members returned to the public meeting room, legislators voted yes on a motion to hold HB 577 in committee, overruling Potts.
As a result, it’s extremely unlikely that HB 577 will make any progress during this legislative session. Par for the course in one of the most stridently anti-cannabis states in the country.