Idaho is the only state in America where medical cannabis is still completely prohibited.
The state lacks any legislation acknowledging the medical value of cannabis, and violations of state laws are considered to be a felony punishable by up to $25,000 and jail time.
On Monday, February 8th, however, the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee voted to introduce H108, a new bill aiming to legalize medical cannabis in Idaho.
Safe and Fair Access for Idaho’s Medical Cannabis Patients
The decision comes after committee members heard testimonies from both cancer patients and oncologists who have experience with cannabis.
Sgt. Jeremy Kitzhaber, an Air Force veteran from Boise and terminal cancer patient, gave a presentation to lawmakers on Monday stressing his belief that cannabis could provide relief to people dealing with conditions like his own.
Kitzhaber, who has worked on national legislation with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., wrote the 53-page bill.
“I’ve closed loopholes and made it so there is no way there can be abuse of any kind,” he told Idaho News 2.
Kitzhaber discovered the relief of cannabis upon trying it in the legal state of Oregon. His goal with H108, however, is to increase access for patients within Idaho.
“I’m not the guy who drives over to Ontario to get it and bring it back,” Kitzhaber continued. “But I can understand the people who do to relieve the pain. But I’m not there yet and I don’t want to be. I want to do it the right way.”
72% of Idahoans Favor Legalization
Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Rep. Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston, co-sponsored the extremely detailed bill.
In an op-ed on Idaho Statesman, Rubel noted that Idahoans should not be turned into criminals for seeking “safer, better treatment.”
“We can get patients help for pain without stepping on a slippery slope, and this is what most Idahoans want. A 2019 poll from FM3 Research showed 72% of Idahoans were in favor of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, and that number has likely climbed higher since the poll was taken. There is strong evidence cannabis is a much safer treatment than opioids and would better serve those suffering from a variety of illnesses, like cancer, epilepsy, ALS, and multiple sclerosis.”
To qualify, medical applicants must be age 21 or older and suffer from one of 16 pre-approved medical conditions. These include conditions like cancer, AIDS, and ALS.
Patients would also need a prescription from their doctor for specific dosages and concentrations of medication. Such prescriptions would only be valid for a maximum of one year, or the period recommended by their doctor.
There would also be a 22% THC cap, and limits on how many purchases patients can make per month.
Twenty-eight pharmacies would be eligible to dispense the prescribed-flower, and offenses for those without medical cards would remain strict.
If the House signs off on the proposed amendment, the issue would go before voters in 2022. Stay tuned for updates.