On August 9, the drive to collect signatures for an Idaho medical marijuana initiative kicked off.
Aiming to get medical marijuana on the 2020 ballot, the initiative was certified by Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney.
Currently, 33 states and Washington DC have legalized medical marijuana and now some Idahoans are making a push to be the 34th.
According to a press release from the Idaho Cannabis Coalition, they need “55,057 valid signatures of registered Idaho voters by April 30, 2020, to place medical marijuana on the ballot.”
In Pocatello, Katz Formal Wear is getting involved, welcoming registered voters from Bannock, Bingham and Power Counties to come sign the petition there.
“Let’s just get this passed and get it on the 2020 ballot,” owner Katrina Evans said.
Evans was the first one to sign the petitions in her store, saying she was really excited to take part something she thinks will have a major impact on the state.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic to drop the opioid use here in Idaho,” she said.
Katz has been selling hemp products for several months after Evans saw the benefits while recovering from a shoulder injury. It was that experience that has continued her push for change in the Gem State.
But, as would be expected, not everyone is in support of the initiative.
“Very obviously, I’m not a proponent of it,” Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said. “I would openly not support this initiative.”
Nielsen explained that in his 40+ years of law enforcement a lot of the issues he’s seen stem from marijuana.
“It is abused, it is an abusive drug, it is an addictive drug,” he said.
But Nielsen isn’t totally opposed to medical marijuana, just the way it is currently being presented.
Things like the lack of FDA regulation and not having any way of ensuring it doesn’t get into the wrong hands are among his biggest concerns.
“If it was coming through the FDA, I’d have no problem with it,” he said. “That puts a big, red flag for me. If it’s that great, why isn’t it endorsed or certified?”
Still, Nielsen said he understands why there are people who are making the push, citing the noted impacts on seizures.
“I’ve had a brother with that and a sister and to watch them go through a seizure, it’s a helpless feeling,” he said. “And if this is documented and scientifically shown to be a help with that, again, I’m all for it.”
Nielsen added that he would even be for it if it were only approved for people who suffered from issues of the sort.
“But, wherever it’s gone, wherever it’s gone … once the door’s open, you can’t shut it. You’ve got people that need it and other people that will abuse it and, unfortunately, the abusers seem to have the upper hand.”
Evans said she understood what the Sheriff was saying, but offered some clarification.
“Medical marijuana does not mean you’re gonna sit back and toke a joint. It has to do with what is inside the plant and how it’s delivered. It could be in a pill form, it could be in a liquid form.”
“Let’s just get it done,” Evans said.