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Idaho House Votes Down Proposed Drug Constitutional Amendment

Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho House has narrowly voted down a proposed constitutional amendment related to the legalization of drugs such as marijuana.

The measure would have sent to the ballot a measure to require two-thirds approval of the legislature in order to legalize one of the drugs on the top two tiers of the state’s controlled substances list. Rep. Brent Crane [R-Nampa] admitted the intent is to head off a proposed medical marijuana ballot initiative.

“In every state where they have legalized marijuana, it started out with CBD oil, followed by medical marijuana, followed by recreational marijuana. If you don’t believe me, look it up. Do your research," he said.

Opponents argued the proposed amendment is too broad. They say there are drugs on that list, such as hemp, that have medicinal benefits. Rep. Dorothy Moon from Stanley says she could have supported the bill "had hemp been removed, which I made an attempt to do one month ago. I had an RS ready to go, but, because of politics, it was not allowed to go anywhere.”

An RS is a routing slip, the precursor to a legislative bill.

Rep. Mike Kingsley [R-Lewiston] says the amendment, while well-intended, is a cold-hearted answer to sick people looking for relief from pain.

“Idaho is the last state to hold out, to not give people medicine that they need for cancer, for nausea. There are so many things that medical marijuana works well for," he said.

Kingsley urged his colleagues to vote down the proposed amendment, then begin work on a bill that will allow medical marijuana with appropriate restrictions.

Supporters, though, say the measure is more than just about marijuana. Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt [R-Eagle] says it’s about preserving the culture of Idaho.

“When we look over at Denver or Seattle or Portland, do we as Idahoans see Boise next? Is that what we want to see our cities, our towns, our communities, become? Or do the people want us to raise that bar when we consider legalizing Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs?” DeMordaunt asked.

The measure received 42 yes votes, 28 no votes. But because it was a proposed constitutional amendment, it needed a two-thirds majority, 47 affirmative votes, and so it failed.