State Politics

Effort underway to get medical marijuana and hemp initiative on Idaho ballot in 2020

Legalizing medical marijuana and industrial hemp in Idaho is the first citizen initiative proposal out of the gate for the 2020 election.

A new cannabis advocacy group, Idaho Cannabis Coalition, is spearheading the effort. The group said it has filed a medical marijuana/industrial hemp petition with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office to start the process.

The bar to get an initiative on an Idaho ballot requires signatures equaling 6 percent of the state’s registered voters as of the last general election. The signatures must come from at least 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

Republican-led legislation is pending to make getting a citizen initiative on the Idaho ballot more onerous.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. C Scott Grow, would increase from 6 percent to 10 percent the number of registered voters that must sign petitions. Perhaps more significantly, the number of districts would increase from 18 to 32. And the amount of time to collect signatures would decrease from 18 months to 180 days.

The Senate State Affairs Committee has not set a hearing date for the proposal, which comes after voters successfully got Medicaid expansion on the ballot and easily passed it.

Idaho Statesman investigative reporter Cynthia Sewell was named Idaho Press Club reporter of the year in 2017 and 2008. A University of Oregon graduate, she joined the Statesman in 2005. Her family has lived in Idaho since the mid-1800s.