I have some time off and I’m hitting the road. What happens if I bring my stash to Idaho?
BAD THINGS, possibly. Picture yourself driving eastbound along I-84. Safely tucked away in your trunk is one ounce of legally purchased Oregon pot. Up ahead, you see a sign reading “Welcome to Idaho.” Shortly after you cross into the “Gem State,” you see red and blue flashing lights in your rearview. It’s an Idaho State Patrol car pulling you over. You panic as you remember the ounce of weed in your trunk. Are you in trouble?
Yes! Idaho hates weed and does not care whether you purchased it legally in the bordering states of Oregon, Washington, or Nevada. Idaho could not care less if you are a medical marijuana cardholder, or whether you require cannabis to treat a debilitating medical condition. Friend, do not bring weed to Idaho.
In Idaho, you could face a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for possessing less than three ounces of cannabis. More than three ounces (but less than five pounds) could earn you five years in the stir and a $10,000 fine. If that sounds terrible, it gets even terribler: You could get a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine for simply being high in public. So even smoking weed prior to crossing Oregon’s eastern border, hopping in the back seat, and hiring a chauffer to whisk you across the panhandle is theoretically dangerous.
Starting last January, my law firm began publishing a weekly, state-by-state rundown of marijuana laws nationwide. Idaho came in as the third-worst state, with only Oklahoma and South Dakota beating it. These states have held on to outdated cannabis laws from the height of the “War on Drugs” days, while other states have adopted medical marijuana programs or decriminalized marijuana.
In 2015, Idaho did consider a restrictive medical marijuana program. However, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed a bill that would have allowed a very limited number of patients to legally use and possess cannabidiol (CBD) oil. (Note that CBD has a mild psychoactive effect, and studies have shown it may be effective in treating several ailments, including epilepsy.) After his veto, Otter issued an executive order that allowed 25 children with severe epilepsy to use CBD oil. This failure to reform cannabis laws in any sensible way makes it hard to believe Idaho will change anytime soon.
When you live in a place like Portland, it is easy to forget that some of our neighbor states have draconian rules for weed. The safe play is to never bring weed across state lines, lest you be exposed to state or even federal prosecution. So double-check every nook and cranny of your vehicle before heading east; the “Gem State” has some very tough laws.