A non-profit organization called Kind Idaho, which was originally founded in 2021, recently announced that it would be pushing for an initiative to legalize medical cannabis in 2024.
Kind Idaho has between now and April 2024 to collect enough signatures (at least 74,000) to qualify its Idaho Medical Marijuana Act for the ballot. According to Kind Idaho Treasurer Joe Evans, advocates are ready to make medical cannabis legalization a reality. “One of the things that we’re looking at is making sure that those are available and legal, without necessarily presenting the opportunity for abuse,” Evans told KTVB7. “So it’s a combination of education on what the potential uses are, and responsible use.”
Idaho is one of 12 states that have not yet legalized medical cannabis. Evans cites the success and safety of medical cannabis as a treatment option in comparison to opioids. “When it comes to patient advocacy seeing medical marijuana, which is a successful, nonlethal pain management program that is nearly impossible to overdose on, is one of those options that many are looking for simply because they don’t want to have to carry around the significant number of prescriptions, pain management, oxycodone, you know, opiates,” Evans said.
More importantly, Evans points out that legal access is paramount. “We want the opportunity for Idaho residents to succeed on their own terms. And for many of those people on their own terms, the best solution is medical marijuana,” Evans stated.
Starting Dec. 1, Kind Idaho will start attending events to promote education about medical cannabis, bolster a social media presence, and begin the signature collecting process.
A recent poll from the Idaho Statesman shows that 68% of residents show support for medical cannabis legalization. However, advocates in Idaho have been attempting to make medical cannabis legalization a reality for the past 10 years without success.
The state saw its first official ballot initiative for medical cannabis in 2012, but it failed to get enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. In 2013, the Idaho legislature passed a resolution against cannabis in any form. That same year, advocates began collecting signatures for the 2014 ballot, but they were unable to collect enough signatures. New Approach Idaho collected signatures in 2015 which would have established a medical cannabis program and decriminalize small amounts, but the following year it withdrew the petition due to wording issues. Later in 2016, another ballot initiative surfaced. Even this year, a legalization effort began but was cut short due to lack of signatures.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little did sign House Bill 1265 in April 2021, which made Idaho the 50th state to legalize industrial hemp. In September 2022, the Idaho Department of Agriculture announced that hemp and CBD products are not recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and therefore not allowed to be sold legally as feed for animals. “As such, these products are not approved feed ingredients and cannot lawfully be added to or incorporated into commercial feed. This includes feeds, treats and remedies intended for pets, livestock, or any other animal,” the Idaho Department of Agriculture said. This restriction took effect on Nov. 1.
Organizations such as the National Animal Group have spoken up about the restriction, urging legislators to lift the ban. “This decision will likely harm animals whose owners will no longer be able to access the products their pets rely on for a variety of health and wellness reasons,” stated a Change.org petition. “It will also have a serious economic impact on Idaho businesses that manufacture and sell these products.”