BOISE, ID — Lawmakers in the Idaho Senate made their position on marijuana clear Monday with a 29-5 vote in favor of a resolution proclaiming that the Idaho state legislature officially opposes “efforts to legalize marijuana for any purposes,” including medical marijuana.
The bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 112, now advances to the House of Representatives for a vote.
Although no medical marijuana legislation has been filed at the state house this session, former Republican Rep. Tom Trail of Moscow failed to get a bill approved to legalize medical marijuana last year.
Author of the resolution, Republican Sen. Chuck Winder of Boise, said the statement is a response to the growing acceptance of marijuana use in neighboring states.
Winder said law enforcement along Idaho’s western border are dealing with an influx of “drug trafficking” since Washington voters approved the recreational use of marijuana by adults, in addition to the the medical use of marijuana allowed in neighboring states Oregon and Montana.
While the resolution is only a political gesture in nature, the anti-marijuana attitude of state lawmakers has prompted medical marijuana activists to begin a 2014 ballot initiative campaign to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
“Instead of wasting their time on resolutions that puts Idaho on the wrong side of history, legislators in Idaho should be debating the best way to protect their seriously ill,” said the Marijuana Policy Project in a statement. “They need to understand that medical marijuana is popular and would be welcomed by their constituency.”
A February 2011 Boise State University Public Policy Survey found that 74% of respondents favor allowing “terminally and seriously ill patients to use and purchase marijuana for medical purposes.”
A second bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 101, which would have urged the federal government to heavily enforce federal marijuana laws in the states of Washington and Colorado, whose voters overwhelmingly voted to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol last November, failed by a 21-13 vote.
Boise Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie said the federal enforcement proposal contradicts the idea of states’ rights — a principle his party used to oppose federal health care and endangered species laws. McKenzie doubted how the resolutions would make Idaho safer.
Under current Idaho law, an individual charged with possession of up to an ounce of marijuana faces a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.