Editorials

Stop the reefer madness. Idaho’s anti-pot hysteria confounds small businesses.

CBD stores open in Idaho. They say using hemp, not marijuana, makes them legal

THC, the marijuana-high compound, is illegal. But hemp-based CBD is legal, advocates say, citing an Idaho attorney general's opinion. Joel Bordeaux, owner of Global CBD, has been selling the hemp-based product out of Sandpoint for two years.
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THC, the marijuana-high compound, is illegal. But hemp-based CBD is legal, advocates say, citing an Idaho attorney general's opinion. Joel Bordeaux, owner of Global CBD, has been selling the hemp-based product out of Sandpoint for two years.

Idaho’s case of 21st century reefer madness continues.

In this case, it’s not about the possibility that some Idahoan might use mind- or mood-altering marijuana. No, this fight is over whether an oil derived from hemp, a humdrum cousin of marijuana often cultivated for rope or fabric, can be sold in Idaho for home-remedy purposes.

Think about it: This is like arguing that turmeric should be prohibited because someone might use it as an anti-inflammatory instead of flavoring the curry.

We understand Idaho policymakers’ steadfast opposition to medicinal or recreational marijuana, which in modern form is quite potent. OK, Idaho is content to let other states experiment and see where it takes them. We get it: No legal marijuana in Idaho.

But to extend that same stubbornness to what is a nonintoxicating product sold routinely in most other states is silly.

And what’s beyond silly is that Idaho can’t really figure out whether it wants to allow the sale of CBD oil or not.

Gov. Butch Otter declined to legalize CBD oil with small amounts of the active agent in marijuana, THC, used to treat, among other things, a form of epilepsy in children, vetoing such a bill in 2015. A similar bill stalled in the Legislature this year.

The city of Garden City is holding up a business license for a retailer who wants to sell oil with no THC. The same oil is being sold at existing businesses in Sandpoint and Idaho Falls. Hemp is legally grown on farms in Idaho. An Idaho market for an Idaho product; seems like a win-win. But Idaho’s anti-pot hard line has created a policy hodgepodge that makes it hard for businesses, or cities apparently, to make sound decisions.

In a state like Idaho, which supposedly prizes entrepreneurship and the free market, the situation borders on absurdity. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while not endorsing its use, doesn’t prohibit the sale of CBD oil as long as it’s not promoted as a drug product that can cure or prevent disease.

And an informal opinion from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office concluded in 2015 that CBD oil is legal in Idaho if it’s taken from hemp stalk and is THC-free.

Retailers like Welcomed Science in Garden City promise to test and sell a product that is THC free. That’s pretty straightforward. Hold them to it.

Governments need to explain why the product is illegal, or they need to step out of the way of the buyer and the seller.

Stop the madness.

Unsigned editorials represent the opinions of the Statesman Editorial Board.

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