The northwestern state of Idaho has much stricter cannabis laws than most of it’s neighboring states. A person caught in possession of any amount of cannabis, from less than one gram to three ounces, in Idaho could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Consuming marijuana or being high in public can translate into a six month jail sentence, a $1,000 fine and a misdemeanor criminal charge.
The Idaho Moms for Marijuana organization is going to risk these charges in order to stand up for their rights in front of the state capitol building on Friday January 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm. On New Year’s Day, the group of moms will display a peaceful act of civil disobedience in order to gain the attention of lawmakers in the Gem State and raise awareness that it is time to reform the state’s cannabis policies.
The event, Idaho Moms New Year’s Day Smoke Out, is BYOB (bring your own bud), and has 82 confirmed attendees and another 123 considering.
The Facebook Event Page clearly warns those who plan to attend that they may risk criminal charges should they choose to light up with the rest of the group at 4:20 pm. While local law enforcement may choose to intervene and shut down the peaceful protest, the Idaho Moms for Marijuana are hopeful that it won’t come down to that. A similar demonstration five years ago resulted in zero arrests.
Whether or not you are a mom in Idaho, you can support their cause by liking their Facebook page, sharing the event or joining them on the steps of the state capitol building in Boise at 700 W Jefferson St.
photo credit: Idaho Moms for Marijuana
Even casual cannabis smokers understand that it was the federal government that outlawed this controversial herb so many years ago (1937, to be exact). Any informed person also understands that it is the states that are taking the lead in legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis in the 21st century.
What most people don’t understand, even hard-core cannabis consumers, is that it was actually the states that outlawed marijuana in the first place. As I wrote in my new book Understanding Medical Marijuana:
By 1930, nearly 30 of the 48 states had passed laws outlawing the cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana—and a variety of narcotics—often under the official justification of food and drug purity (a popular progressive movement after the turn of the century).
As described in the book (excerpted here), there are many reasons why states began outlawing cannabis 100 years ago. The first law banning marijuana actually was a municipal effort in El Paso, Texas in 1914. While the official justification for the law was to “curb violence,” the ban was actually implemented to make it easier to prosecute (and deport) Mexicans and Mexican-Americans — many of whom smoked marijuana. Racists forces in El Paso didn’t have to outlaw Mexicans; they simply outlawed what was in most Mexican pockets.
State Prohibition Began 100 Years Ago
In 1915, Utah was the first state to legislate cannabis prohibition, followed by Wyoming in the same year. This began a domino effect in terms of other states adopting pot prohibition. Only four years later, in 1919, Texas, Iowa, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington also outlawed the herb. Arkansas and Montana joined the party in 1923 and 1927, respectively.
Ten years later, Harry Anslinger and William Randolph Hearst ensured that there would be no refuge for cannabis users in states that hadn’t gotten the message. The passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in August of 1937 began what has become 78 years of national marijuana prohibition in the United States. Due to its tremendous economic and military influence, the U.S. worked with the United Nations and foreign governments to create virtually global-level prohibition of cannabis during the cold war period of the 1950s and ’60s.
Today, 100 years after that first law prohibiting cannabis in Utah, states are, ironically, the light at the end of the tunnel for millions of medical and recreational cannabis users. What began in 1996 with the Compassionate Use Act in California has blossomed into literally dozens of states with robust medical or recreational cannabis laws in place. In terms of social reform, it is quickly becoming the decade of sustainable energy, cannabis legalization, and LGBT rights.
Investors Smell the Money
The latest trend in state-level cannabis legalization is the funding of ballot issues by well-heeled investment groups (sometimes in exchange for limited monopolies). Many state legislatures are dominated by Republican governors who can easily veto pro-marijuana legislation — costing investors millions. With no Congressionally mandated recreational legalization on the horizon, activists and private investment groups are choosing the path of state ballot initiatives. Given the strength of political opposition, legalization advocates are finding the path of least resistance to be a popular vote — and, of course, bearing the burden of convincing citizens that marijuana legalization is good for society.
Regardless of the source of these state-level initiatives that so eagerly seek voter approval, such efforts are offering cash-strapped states in a struggling economy a way to generate tax revenues for basic infrastructure challenges — like fixing bridges, paving pothole-riddled roads, and supporting schools. Even some Republicans are warming to the idea of generating hundreds of millions of tax dollars via the legal sale of pot.
Colorado is currently the leading example of how legalization can generate much-needed tax revenue and decrease a state’s crime enforcement burden. Politicians and private investment groups in other areas of the country are smelling the money. In even traditionally conservative states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, efforts are currently underway to legalize and tax the crap out of cannabis.
When thinking about California, Colorado, or any state that has embraced medical or recreational cannabis legalization, one must remember that it was actually the states that began nearly a century of federal-level cannabis prohibition. Is the current trend of legalization the states paying for their sins?
Severely epileptic children in Idaho will not be benefiting from medical cannabis any time soon.
Governor C.L. Otter explained to the Idaho Legislature on Thursday, April 16, that he had to veto a bill approved 39-30 by the House that would have permitted marijuana oil treatments for epileptic children.
Otter felt the bill had too many unanswered “questions and problems,” and that the patient outcomes were “speculative” instead of strongly backed by scientific proof.
He made a point to note that he sympathized with the “heartbreaking dilemma” some families face and he recognized that epilepsy is a “debilitating” disease.
Although Otter’s veto prevents parents from legally giving medical marijuana extract oil to their children, he authorized the Department of Health and Welfare via an executive order to research the issue further.
Additionally, the governor noted the potential for epileptic children who are resistant to traditional forms of treatment to receive access to Epidiolex, a drug made from a cannabis extract, through a program approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Over the last several years, medical cannabis oils have helped those suffering from severe epilepsy to live normal lives throughout the nation. Now, Idaho’s state senate is working to pass its own bill to bring life-improving medication to its citizens. However, the committee still seems undecided as to whether doing so will help those in need or merely open the door for recreational marijuana in the future.
Since last month, the Idaho state senate bill, 1146aa, has been on a rollercoaster, amended and read before representatives three times. At the initial vote back on March 30th, the senate was deadlocked, voting 8 to 8. As of April 2, the bill has once again been revived by a 22 to 12 majority, this time to be read and voted on in full.
This recount came after three of the original committee members decided to change their vote after hearing nine hours of testimony from physicians as well as the parents of the children suffering. Now, the bill is set to be read before the governor and a full house on April 6.
While it is uncommon for a bill to be revived, the recent emotional testimony has swayed the committee. The bill has become known as Alexis’ Law, named after Alexis Carey, a 10 year old suffering from epileptic seizures as a part of Dravet Syndrome.
Idahoans suffering from this rare form of epilepsy are eager to change the court’s mind, stating that the cannabis oil in question is entirely medical and absent of THC. The ‘CBD only’ bill still scares opponents of the measure – saying it will only open the doors for more medical options and recreational use.
There have been several leading industry activists and law experts that have called out the ineffectiveness of ‘CBD only’ legislation.
Photo Credit: Yahoo