Idaho marijuana petitioners set up at Ontario recreational dispensary

Russ Belville, spokesman for Idaho Citizens Coalition pauses for a photo at the Lodge/Crane Idaho Marijuana Petitioning Station at Treasure Valley Cannabis Company, a recreational marijuana dispensary in Ontario.

The following information is from a news release by the Idaho Citizens Coalition on May 19.

ONTARIO — Following Gov. Little’s veto of a bill to make the practice illegal, marijuana reformers establish Oregon’s first signing station at Treasure Valley Cannabis Company. The station is named after two Idaho lawmakers who tried to make out-of-state petitioning illegal, according to a news release from the Idaho Citizens Coalition.

The Lodge/Crane Idaho Marijuana Petitioning Station is set up at Treasure Valley Cannabis Company, one of Ontario’s nine dispensaries. The group will be staffing the station with Idaho volunteers to collect signatures for two marijuana petitions aiming for the November 2022 ballot.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge introduced Senate Bill 1150, which would have required all Idaho initiative petitions to be signed within the state of Idaho. Rep. Brent Crane then amended the bill to provide exceptions for members of the military and religious missionaries who were serving out of state to assuage opponents in the House.

The amended bill was vetoed by Gov. Brad Little; with Deputy Attorney General Robert A. Berry stating that the bill would likely be found unconstitutional “because it likely discriminates against an identifiable class of voters without sufficient justification.”

The transparent goal of the bill was to thwart the gathering of signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act petition from the hundreds of Idahoans who cross the border daily into Ontario, Oregon, to purchase $10 million of marijuana every month.

“The ironic thing about Sen. Lodge’s bill is that before she filed it, we were under the impression that we could not gather signatures out of state,” said Russ Belville, spokesperson for the Idaho Citizens Coalition (ICC). “And thanks to Rep. Crane’s amendment, her bill became so blatantly unconstitutional the governor was forced to veto it.”

In addition to the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act that has been gathering signatures since February, ICC is also beginning the process of submitting another marijuana initiative. The Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act, which would protect all Idaho adults 21 and older from search, arrest and prosecution for the possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana on private property.

While both initiatives must collect 64,946 signatures of registered Idaho voters by May 2022 to qualify for the November 2022 ballot, the new decrim measure is subject to the new 35-district signature gathering law, SB 1110. That law, however, is being challenged in court. Should the plaintiffs prevail, both initiatives would be subject to the 18-district rule the IMMA is filed under, or, possibly, all district requirements could be repealed and both initiatives would revert to Idaho’s original 6% statewide signature requirement, regardless of district.

The release does not state how long the petition station will be set up.

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