Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As legislation changes in Idaho, check back to this section for information about how those legislative changes will affect the prospect of medical marijuana in Idaho.
In 2011 and 2012, Idaho state lawmakers took the first steps toward considering legalized medical marijuana. This break in a traditionally conservative mindset came under the leadership of former state representative Tom Trail, sadly Mr. Trail retired and no lawmaker has stepped into the role to replace him. Last year Idaho representatives spent too much time on meaningless resolutions that will do little to help needy patients across the state.
Later, the Senate issued Senate Concurrent Resolution 112 which stated that the current state legislature opposed the legalization of cannabis “for any purpose.” This amazingly spits in the face of a February 2011 poll which found that ¾ of the state’s voters were in favor of allowing “terminally and seriously ill patients to use and purchase marijuana for medical purposes.”
Idaho is lagging behind neighboring states with respect to legalizing medical marijuana. The most recent move to permit very ill patients in the state to use medical marijuana oil with a minimal amount of THC was vetoed by Gov. Butch Otter. In 2015, the state legislature approved the Bill S1146 to create a low-THC law, but the ultra-conservative Gov. Otter has caused Idaho to be among the six states in the U.S. that lack a law for low-THC oil use by qualified patients.
However, a lot of effort is being put forth by proponents of a constitutional amendment initiative that will add a new chapter to the constitution to be called the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act. This proposal has been in circulation since 2016. This initiative, which has been gathering a lot of support from voters in Idaho, aims to legalize medical marijuana and protect terminally or seriously ill patients from being arrested for possession of marijuana.
If it is successfully turned into an act, this legislation will also protect caregivers who attempt to cultivate medical marijuana while establishing a registry of patients qualified to use the medicine. The initiative proposes that patients, their registered caregivers and agents working for medical marijuana organizations should be issued identification cards. It also proposes that the maximum quantity a qualified patient should possess is eight ounces. Additionally, the initiative wants the state to have a licensing system that will establish and control a new industrial hemp program.
Presently, Idaho has harsh marijuana laws. Possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor that’s punishable by a 12-month jail term, a fine of $1,000 or both. If a person has more than three ounces, it’s considered a felony and is punishable by a five-year jail term and a fine of $10,000. A subsequent offense will attract a double penalty.
Cultivation of marijuana is banned for both recreational and medical use in Idaho. Anyone found with 25 or more plants or one pound of cannabis has committed a felony. A person in possession of 25 to 50 plants will have to serve a 12-month jail term and pay a fine of $5,000. Possession of 50 to 100 plants attracts a three-year jail term and a fine of $10,000. Possession of more than 100 plants will be punishable by a five-year jail term and a fine of $15,000.
Telemedicine or Telehealth services in Idaho are defined as the provision of health care services by a qualified provider to another person via information technology and electronic communication. In 2015, the Idaho Senate approved House Bill 189, which established the Idaho Telehealth Access Act.
This act allows Telehealth services to be provided as long as the healthcare provider has a written record of the patient’s clinical history and the present symptoms to establish a diagnosis and properly identify underlying conditions for the recommended treatment. However, the law has not been amended to permit telemedicine services for controlled substances like marijuana.