An Idaho legislator filed new legislation to the state’s House of Representatives that would allow for limited use of cannabis for certain severe medical conditions.

House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman John Vander Woude (R) introduced the Idaho Medical Cannabis Act but, in an unusual move, decided to do it as a personal bill rather than as a draft bill submitted to a legislative committee for a hearing.

Circumventing the committee process means that House Bill 370 has little chance of advancing, so it appears Vander Woude’s intention was to start a debate on medical cannabis reform in Idaho and set the tone for future discussions on the proposal.

That said, the measure has garnered little attention since it wasn’t included on any legislative agendas and hasn’t yet been debated on the floor. Moreover, the fact that it hasn’t been put before a legislative committee means there is no public testimony on the proposal. The deadline for the introduction of personal bills in this legislative session, meanwhile, was back in January.

Vander Woude’s Idaho Medical Cannabis Act would allow patients with a severe medical condition, such as AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, seizures, wasting syndrome, cancer or a terminal illness to apply for a medical marijuana card that would be valid for up to one year, after which it could then be renewed.

The measure provides for the use of “ingestible” marijuana in the form of a pill, droplet, tablet or chewable containing a maximum of 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which must be procured from an Idaho pharmacist with a medical marijuana license. Under Vander Woude’s bill, possession and consumption of marijuana in its raw form would remain prohibited.

Medical cannabis pharmacies would source their marijuana products from state-licensed producers who would be authorized to grow, process and handle the plant.

This marks the third major attempt at reforming Idaho’s cannabis laws. The first effort, back in 2012, was introduced by Rep. Tom Trail (R) but it never advanced. In 2021, a bipartisan medical cannabis bill was introduced by Reps. Mike Kingsley (R) and Ilana Rubel (D) and it also faltered.

In the meantime, most of Idaho’s neighbors have either approved medical cannabis legalization, such as Utah, or permit the use of recreational marijuana, as is the case in Oregon, Montana, Nevada, and Washington. Only Wyoming continues to prohibit cannabis for any purpose.

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