A bill to ban the advertising of products or services that are illegal in Idaho, such as cannabis, has been introduced in the state legislature. The bill was inspired by billboards and online ads promoting out-of-state cannabis businesses, which are legal in neighboring states but not in Idaho.
The bill would impose misdemeanor charges for illegal ads
The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Judy Boyle ® and Sen. Chris Trakel ®, would create a new section in Idaho state criminal law to allow misdemeanor charges for “any person who willfully publishes any notice or advertisement, in any medium, of a product or service that is illegal under Idaho law.” The bill would take effect immediately after being passed and is not expected to impact state or local government funds.
The bill’s proponents say they are concerned about the influence of cannabis ads on Idaho residents, especially young people, who may be tempted to cross the border and purchase cannabis products that are illegal in their home state. They also argue that the ads are misleading and deceptive, as they do not disclose the legal risks and health effects of cannabis use.
The bill was triggered by billboards and online ads for cannabis
The bill was introduced on Wednesday to the House State Affairs Committee, after several lawmakers reported seeing billboards and online ads for cannabis businesses in Idaho. Rep. Boyle said she saw a billboard near the Idaho-Oregon border, while Rep. Julianne Young ® said she saw one in downtown Boise. Rep. Heather Scott ® shared newspaper ads for cannabis delivery services that claimed to operate in Idaho.
“And then another individual sent me — actually on the internet — that you can have drugs delivered to your Idaho doorstep. So I thought this was a little outrageous,” Boyle told the committee.
The House State Affairs Committee voted to introduce the bill, which means it will have a full hearing with public testimony before it goes to the Idaho House for consideration.
Idaho is one of the few states that still prohibits cannabis
Idaho is one of the last remaining states to maintain a complete prohibition on cannabis, while most of its neighboring states — Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington — have legalized cannabis for adult use. Idaho also borders Utah, which has legalized cannabis for medical use, and Canada, which has legalized cannabis federally.
Idaho’s stance on cannabis has been challenged by activists and voters, who have tried to put legalization initiatives on the ballot. However, the state legislature passed a bill earlier this year to make it harder to qualify ballot measures, which was vetoed by Gov. Brad Little ®. A lawsuit challenging the bill is pending in court.
Meanwhile, a group called the Idaho Cannabis Coalition is collecting signatures for a medical cannabis initiative that aims to be on the 2022 ballot. The group says it has gathered over 40,000 signatures so far, out of the 65,000 needed by May 1, 2022.