BOISE – Idaho senators voted along party lines Monday to declare that their state should never legalize marijuana for any purpose, but rejected another measure calling for a federal crackdown on states like Washington that have.
“Idaho cannot go into any other state and enforce Idaho law there. We are looking to the federal government,” state Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, sponsor of both measures, told the Senate.
But senators from both parties, who spent six hours last week railing against federal intervention in states’ rights on health care reform, said the crackdown measure went too far.
“The hypocrisy and inconsistency in this bill we’re considering right now just astounds me,” said state Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise.
The Senate rejected SJM 101, Winder’s nonbinding federal crackdown memorial, on a 21-13 vote.
The debate was different on SCR 112, his measure stating that it’s the policy of the Idaho Legislature that the state should never legalize or decriminalize marijuana for any purpose, including medicinal uses.
“If you legalize marijuana, then will the next argument be that our jails are full of people who distribute cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines?” Winder asked. “How far do you lower the bar?”
He warned, “There is an effort nationally going on to legalize marijuana, not only for medical purposes, but for recreational purposes, and Idaho is one of those targeted states.” Winder urged the Senate “to basically stand up for our state, say that we don’t want legalized marijuana.”
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, warned against dismissing concerns from cancer patients for whom smoking marijuana can ease the debilitating nausea caused by chemotherapy. She noted that marijuana already is illegal in Idaho.
“SCR 112 chases ghosts that haven’t appeared yet, in anticipation that they might,” Stennett said. “The part that disturbs me with this resolution is its overreach.”
That measure passed the Senate on a 29-5 vote and now heads to the House. The only “no” votes came from five Senate Democrats, with Bock joining the Republicans in backing that measure.