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Anti-pot bills clear Idaho Senate panel

Thu., Feb. 21, 2013, midnight

BOISE – Idaho should never legalize marijuana for any purpose and should call on the U.S. Justice Department to crack down on states that do, state lawmakers declared Wednesday.

The unmistakably clear anti-pot message is taking shape in two proposed resolutions that cleared the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee after more than two hours of emotional testimony.

“Imagine a workplace where employees show up high on marijuana, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Marianne King, director of Drug Free Idaho, told the committee.

Several people testified that marijuana leads to other drug use, mental illness and more.

John Evans, mayor of Garden City and president of the Association of Idaho Cities, told the senators, “Legalization of marijuana in any form is a threat to our communities, on our roads, in the workplace and in the classroom.”

The association passed an anti-marijuana resolution several weeks ago, prompting state Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, to propose the legislation.

Speaking against the measures, Coty Ternes of Compassionate Idaho told the committee that drug dealers don’t ask kids for ID when they sell them marijuana. “Get this out of the black markets,” he said. “Get the money out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of legitimate businesses.”

Several people with serious medical conditions told the senators they don’t want to take heavy painkillers with serious side effects when marijuana can alleviate their symptoms. Several teenagers appealed to lawmakers to keep Idaho drug-free.

Winder noted that neither of the resolutions he sponsored changes Idaho law. Instead, SCR 112 says it’s the policy of the Legislature that marijuana should never be legalized for any purpose and SJM 101 is a nonbinding memorial to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice calling for federal drug laws to be enforced in all states. That includes Washington, where voters have legalized recreational use of the drug for adults.

“It’s impacting our state,” Winder said, noting that several police officers told the committee marijuana seizures on Idaho’s roads have gone up since neighboring states decriminalized medical marijuana.

“The interstate trafficking of drugs is under federal jurisdiction, therefore they’re the ones that should be responsible primarily for that,” Winder said.

But Idaho lawmakers are accustomed to railing against federal authority over states, not calling for federal crackdowns. This morning, for example, the Idaho Senate blocked out several hours for debate over a state health insurance exchange bill to allow senators plenty of time to vent about how health care reform impacts state sovereignty.

The committee approved both anti-marijuana measures on voice votes.

The measures move to the full Senate for consideration.

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