It is illegal to use, possess and grow marijuana and several other drugs in Idaho. Now, state lawmakers are a step closer to adding another drug-related prohibition.
On its western border, Idaho has two neighbors that have legalized marijuana. Owners of cannabis businesses in Washington and Oregon are advertising their wares on billboards in the Gem State, trying to lure Idahoans over the border to satisfy their cravings.
Sen. Scott Grow [R-Eagle] says, about 10 days ago, a constituent who is apparently tired of seeing those billboards sent him a few pictures. Grow decided to act.
“We have prohibitions on cigarette advertising on billboards, TV, et cetera and they are legal. So here we have the illegal drugs that we’re proposing a ban to prohibit for commercial uses," he said.
During a Senate floor hearing on Thursday, Grow’s proposal received several messages of support.
“This is just one more step toward making Idaho that place we all want to live in and have the freedoms that we enjoy. But we don’t need the illicit drugs or problems that come with them," said Rep. Lee Heider [R-Twin Falls].
Opponents, such as Sen. Grant Burgoyne [D-Boise], say Idaho is surrounded by people who can offer things that are illegal in his state. And he questioned, why are we acting now?
“There’s been a casino in Jackpot, Nevada that has been wanting me to ride a fun bus to Nevada to do something in Nevada that I can’t do here in Idaho except on an Indian reservation because it is illegal to do it in Idaho. That’s gambling," he said.
And the state hasn’t banned those billboards yet, he said.
His colleague, Sen. Melissa Wintrow [D-Boise], said she objects for a different reason: timing. As the 2021 session winds down to a close, she says Grow’s bill is a late entrant. She says she recently asked a committee chairman if she could introduce her own bill to fix some flawed legislation.
“But the chair respectfully said the committees are closed. I didn’t stomp my feet. I said, ‘Ok, we’ll do it next year.’ I’m just saying I think the process should be fair. I had a very simple correction and I wasn’t allowed that same courtesy," she said.
The marijuana advertising bill was approved by a 21-14 vote and sent to the state House.