Kind Idaho Chair Jackee Winters is laser-focused on qualifying the group’s medical cannabis legalization initiative for the state’s 2022 ballot in order to help her daughter, who suffers from a brain tumor, get legal access to cannabis.
“It’s time for Idaho to grow up,” she told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. “There are people here who suffer, and we’re behind the times. We need medical advancements in Idaho, and I don’t want to have to relocate my entire family. … It’s not fair that she’s got to suffer, and they basically try to turn us all into criminals by not letting us have our own choice.”
Winters said Kind Idaho has a “skeleton crew” of volunteers in different parts of the state, and has collected roughly 5,000 of the 65,000 total signatures needed to get the group’s medical cannabis legalization measure, the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act for 2022 (IMMA), before voters next year.
IMMA would legalize the possession of up to 4 ounces of cannabis for medical purposes, as well as the home cultivation of up to six plants for patients with a “hardship waiver.” The measure would also create a system of dispensaries to sell medical cannabis to qualified patients in the state.
“We’re asking for regulated medication—cannabis—that would be available to [patients] when they need it,” Winters said. “We really need something … for the people in Idaho who suffer.”
Recruiting volunteers has been challenging, Winters said, and speculated that people simply may not be familiar with the Kind Idaho campaign.
“People may not know of us because it’s our first time doing this, or [word] hasn’t gotten out there,” she said.
Kind Idaho just finished a push to gather signatures at Hempfest, an educational event held Aug. 14 in Boise, and plans to send volunteers to upcoming fairs in the state.
“We just keep trucking along, wishing for the best,” Winters said.
The Idaho Way, formerly known as the Idaho Citizen Coalition for Cannabis, is also working to bring cannabis policy reform to Idaho in the form of a decriminalization initiative called the Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act (PAMDA).
PAMDA would not create a commercial adult-use cannabis industry in Idaho, but would legalize the personal possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis in private for adults 21 and older.
Like Kind Idaho, The Idaho Way is currently in the process of collecting roughly 65,000 signatures to place PAMDA on Idaho’s 2022 ballot.
During its last legislative session, the Idaho Legislature passed S.B. 1110, which changed the signature-gathering requirements for groups like Kind Idaho and The Idaho Way to get their measures before voters.
Under Idaho’s previous law, which went into effect in 2013, campaigns had to collect signatures from 6% of the registered voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. Under S.B. 1110, they must gather signatures from 6% of registered voters in all 35 districts to qualify their initiatives for the ballot, which Winters said is “virtually impossible.”
Kind Idaho submitted IMMA before the new law took effect, allowing the campaign to qualify its initiative with signatures from 18 of the state’s districts, while The Idaho Way had to operate under the new law and gather signatures from all 35 districts.
Reclaim Idaho, a campaign behind a ballot initiative for Medicaid expansion, sued over S.B. 1110 in May, and the Idaho Supreme Court ruled Aug. 23 that the new law is unconstitutional, according to an Idaho Statesman report.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the law infringed on the public’s right to enact laws outside of the Legislature, and that both the Legislature and the Secretary of State’s Office “failed to present a compelling state interest for limiting that right,” the news outlet reported.
Kind Idaho and The Idaho Way were both watching the case closely.
“Should the decision go in Reclaim’s favor, and the law returns with the 18-district threshold, then we’ll be moving forward with our PAMDA initiative,” Russ Belville, a spokesman for The Idaho Way, told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary earlier this month. “If it doesn’t go in our favor and we’re stuck with 35 districts, we’ll probably fold the PAMDA initiative and put all our efforts into the IMMA medical initiative.”
Winters said Belville had been helping the Kind Idaho campaign prior to launching the PAMDA initiative, and the two groups are continuing to work together as much as possible.
“Everyone working together is how we’re going to get this done,” she said, adding that she is gathering signatures alongside Kind Idaho’s volunteers. “I’m actually out there in my community getting signatures because it’s very important to Idaho and I want to be part of this changing of times, making history in Idaho."