Medical Marijuana Utah

A group in Idaho is working on a renewed effort to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2020.

BOISE — Backers of a medical marijuana initiative have submitted the required 20 valid signatures to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. The initiative has been referred to the Idaho Attorney General’s office for review, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed Wednesday. An initial filing last week was three valid signatures short.

“We provided additional signatures that day, one of the activists did,” said James Piotrowski, attorney for the initiative group. “We didn’t have to redo the whole thing.”

The Attorney General’s certificate of review is due by late July. After that, the backers would have 15 working days to decide whether to make any changes before requesting long and short ballot titles. Then, the state would have another 10 working days to provide those and clear the way for signatures to be gathered.

It would take 55,057 signatures from registered Idaho voters, 6% of those who were registered to vote in the November 2018 election, to make the November 2020 ballot, including 6% of registered voters in at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. Those would be due by April 30, 2020.

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“We’re hoping to get started by the end of the summer, certainly,” Piotrowski said. “I think it’s a much improved piece of proposed legislation. We directly addressed what we considered the more serious concerns that the Attorney General raised the last time around. There are some items on which we simply disagreed. … Although we’re certainly looking forward to hearing what concerns or suggestions the Attorney General’s office might have, we’re pretty confident in what we’ve got, so we’re ready to move forward.”

The initiative would decriminalize under state law the possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana for registered patients with a specified “debilitating medical condition,” from cancer to chronic pain. It would protect medical marijuana production facilities and medical marijuana dispensaries from civil forfeitures and penalties under state law and make it illegal to discriminate against registered medical marijuana users in education, housing or employment.

Among Idaho’s neighbors, only Wyoming doesn’t allow medical marijuana. Nevada legalized recreational marijuana in 2017, and Utah approved medical marijuana in November. Oregon and Washington have legal recreational marijuana; Montana has legal medical marijuana. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia allow legal marijuana in some form.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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