Idaho Senate Passes Resolution to Make Marijuana Legalization Unconstitutional

On Wednesday, the Idaho State Senate passed a resolution that would amend the state’s constitution to prevent various drugs, including marijuana, from being legalized in the state. This resolution is likely a response to efforts to put a medical marijuana initiative on the state’s 2022 ballot and neighboring states acting to legalize the substance. 

The resolution, which was approved last week by the Senate State Affairs Committee, passed in the Senate with a vote of 24-11, one vote higher than the required majority. The resolution will next be considered in the Idaho House of Representatives, where it will need a two-thirds majority to continue. If it does pass through the House, the constitutional amendment will also need to be approved by Idaho voters and would be placed on the next ballot. 

The proposed constitutional amendment question states, “Shall Article III of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a new Section 30 to provide that the production, manufacture, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession, or use of certain psychoactive drugs shall not be lawful in the State of Idaho unless such drugs are: (a) approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and permitted by the state; (b) lawfully prescribed; and (c) lawfully dispensed?”

According to a report by Marijuana Moment, this measure would take precedence over a legalization question placed on the ballot beside it, even if legalization gets approved by voters. The article also said that a separate bill which is not yet proposed by an Idaho lawmaker would create a “seriously limited medical marijuana program,” which advocates worry would undermine any voter initiatives as well. 

The Associated Press explained that the Republican senators supported the constitutional amendment because it would allow voters to decide and that legalization in neighboring states led them to take action to prevent similar outcomes in Idaho. Supporters of the constitutional amendment argued that legalizing marijuana would lead to a decline in health and increase in crime. 

Idaho is currently one of only three states to not allow products with any THC, a chemical in marijuana and hemp. Attempts by lawmakers in previous years to legalize medical marijuana have been defeated.