America still doesn’t know what Attorney General Jeff Sessions, avowed marijuana foe, plans to do about the country’s widespread and wildly successful cannabis industry. But if Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has his way, some kind of Justice Department-led federal crackdown will come soon, and it’ll begin in nearby Washington and Oregon.
Otter was an early Trump supporter whose name was briefly floated to join Donald Trump’s Cabinet, maybe as Secretary of Agriculture. Evidently the lifelong livestock man knows too much about farming, or his steadfast support of Trump when the country was disgusted by the president’s ghastly boasts of sexual assault was too odious even for Steve Bannon and crew.
Either way, Otter is now breaking with conservative principle to request some big-government federal intervention, in the form of Trump sending in the drug war cavalry.
On Jan. 30, he wrote to the president to praise Trump’s infamous executive action on immigration and to formally request a marijuana crackdown, and not in his state—in Nevada, Montana, Oregon or Washington, the four nearby states where marijuana is either legal or available for medical use.
Otter blamed the current state of affairs on Obama—which Trump always appreciates—and insisted, without any tangible data, that nearby states’ experiments with legalization is wreaking havoc in otherwise-placid Idaho.
“Among the most pressing concerns facing Idaho, both from the criminal and public health standpoints, is the utter lack of consistency displayed by the Obama administration in enforcement of federal marijuana laws,” Otter wrote, according to the Idaho Statesman.
“In that respect, Idaho is a virtual island of compliance, and we are paying the price,” he wrote.
The price, as the newspaper noted, is the fact that “people are bringing marijuana into the state.” Those people would include Idahoans sick of the black market who go to the nearest dispensary to buy it legally and bring it back. In Butch Otter’s world, this puts a strain on Idaho’s jails, schools and healthcare systems.
Whatever you say, cowboy.
Under Obama, prohibition states adjacent to legal states have tried to enlist the federal government to intervene without success. A lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska against Colorado, alleging that state’s now-$1.3 billion dollars worth of legal pot was somehow creating crime across the region, was thrown out by the Supreme Court last year.
And so far, other Trump-loving state governors who hate marijuana have had to deal with it.
Maine’s Paul LePage, whose failed opposition campaign to that state’s successful legalization effort relied on fake facts and blatant racism, has thus far been forced to try to obstruct cannabis by himself.
Otter won’t have any support from some Idaho conservatives, including the think-tank that made the (rational) case for the state to legalize.