Ahhhh, Idaho. The land of the free, the home of the... few? Let's be honest, almost no one lives in Idaho. I bet you don't even know where it is on the map. The last time I heard about Idaho in the news, they were trying to fight the potato famine or something. I wonder how that went.
Is Marijuana Legal in Idaho?
One thing Idaho definitely hasn't been in the news for is weed. Marijuana and Idaho go together like... well, they don't go together. As weed legalization slowly spreads across the country's liberal coasts, Idaho and the rest of the inside of the country has largely been left behind.
Marijuana is 100% illegal in Idaho: no medical, no decriminalization, and you can't even have oil with THC in it. The state's conservative politics and the lack of public marijuana exposure has made this state one of the country's strongest bulwarks against legalization and it honestly doesn't look like it'll change anytime soon.
Impact of Marijuana's Illegality on Idaho's Citizens
How is the state's conservative take on weed affecting the people of the state, though? Is the state's ardent prohibition on the drug having a positive affect on the communities there?
To put it simply, NO. Idaho's possession penalties are intense and end up jailing more people for nonviolent crimes than necessary. If you're caught with 3oz or less, you'll get a misdemeanor, a full year in jail, and a $1,000 fine. Not too bad for carrying a dub, right? Any amount over 3oz and you're a felon who'll spend 5 years in jail and pay up to $10,000 in fines. Now that's a hot ticket. These penalties are just for possession, too. If you have any intent to sell or distribute, consider yourself an automatic felon with jail time and fines up to $50,000.
This all must be justified, though, right? Like, maybe the stoners in Idaho are all crazier than the stoners in other states and they need to be stopped.
Unfortunately, there's no evidence to support that. In fact, there's only evidence to support that Idaho's prohibition is actually having a negative impact on the wellbeing of the state's citizens. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Idaho are more than two and a half times more likely to be arrested for possession charges. And before you even start, no, African Americans do not use marijuana more than whites do. The over-inflated incarceration rates for African Americans are just the result of a law enforcement with racist biases. That's all.
Medicinal Marijuana in Idaho
The state will barely go halfway with medical users, too, though the state did just pass a new bill allowing the use of THC-free oil to treat epilepsy. Unfortunately, that bill helped only four children with the disorder. Epilepsy only scratches the surface of conditions treatable by medicinal marijuana. To the rest of the Idahoans with treatable medical issues, I guess it's good luck.
Many medical marijuana seekers are turning to Idaho's neighboring states for help. Idaho is in quite a unique position in the country because not only does it have some of the harshest penalties for weed, it's also bordered by Washington, Oregon, and Nevada, all of which allow recreational use. Many Idahoans are turning to Oregon, specifically, for medical marijuana because the state does not require residency to obtain a card. The only catch is that the card and the weed you can get with it are only valid in Oregon and transporting marijuana across state borders is strictly illegal.
Idaho's Law Enforcement Regarding Cannabis
What many law enforcement divisions are doing to subvert the illegal trafficking of marijuana across state borders is to set up fake "Drug Inspection Checkpoints." Real drug inspection checkpoints were found to be unconstitutional in the 2000 Supreme Court case The City Indianapolis v. Edmond, but that hasn't stopped Idaho from trying. Border police have put up signs warning of drug inspection checkpoints but they're fake. Police just use them to spot the vehicles that turn around to avoid the fake checkpoints, where they then stop them and arrest them for possession. Pretty crazy if you ask me.
It all seems kind of crazy though, right? It'd be one thing if Idahoans just didn't want weed. In fact, a recent poll found that 64% don't. The thing is, though, Idaho's prohibition is negatively affecting people and communities that aren't given a say. The way it looks right now, though, it doesn't look like Idaho will change their stance on cannabis anytime soon.