Idaho Senate Committee Approves Illicit Drug Constitutional Amendment

Mar 11, 2021

Medical marijuana advocates in Idaho are gathering signatures for a legalization initiative at a time when legislators want to reserve that decision for themselves.
Credit Courtesy of Idaho Secretary of State

The Idaho legislature is a step closer to making it more difficult to legalize drugs such as marijuana.

A House committee voted Thursday to put a constitutional amendment before voters. It would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the legislature to allow the possession and use of drugs that are now considered illegal.

The proposal comes as advocates of medical marijuana have begun to collect signatures for a 2022 state initiative.

Several anti-drug advocates and law enforcement officers, such as Keith Graves, praised lawmakers for sponsoring the resolution.

“No state has thrived that has legalized marijuana or other drugs. States have increased drug use rates, increased juvenile drug use, increased emergency room admissions because of drug harm, and they have significant drug cartel activity and you have drug cartels in Idaho. These all add costs to the state and then drain valuable public resources. We don’t want you to become California," he said.

The opposition that testified Thursday was a mix of marijuana legalization advocates and others, such as Monica McKinley, who called the proposed amendment the wrong tool. She asked committee members if they really wanted to make felons out of cancer patients who use marijuana as a painkiller.

“What message are you sending to the hospice patients in Idaho? You’ve abdicated your authority and punted to the voters, who are predisposed to make this pass because of religious grounds, not deliberative, principled grounds. This should be addressed, again, in the legislature and in state statute, not our constitution," she said.

The measure now moves to the full House for consideration.