The Senate State Affairs Committee has passed two measures calling for federal policing of marijuana in Idaho. Both will now be heard by the full Senate, where the committee chairman, Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, expects there to be some debate.
“This is not just something that the Legislature dreamed up,” said Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, who sponsored the measures in the committee. Winder told IdahoReporter.com that the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) had passed its own resolutions on the marijuana issue, and requested that the state Legislature take up the matter.
AIC’s website lists itself as the sponsoring organization of both SJR0101 and SCR0112, the two resolutions that passed in committee Wednesday. The former is, in legislative terms, a “memorial,” which is a request for action, calling upon the federal government to “take appropriate actions” to police drug trafficking between Idaho and other states. The latter is a “resolution,” an expression of the collective views of the current Legislature, which stipulates that Idaho opposes efforts to legalize marijuana in the state.
While both measures passed with only one dissenting vote, the senator who cast that vote, Elliott Werk, D-Boise, wanted it on the record that he voted no. McKenzie feels there may be other “no” votes when the measures reach the Senate floor, primarily because some senators will see the call to involve the federal government as a violation of state sovereignty.
“I’m not a big fan of federal intervention in the affairs of the states,” Winder said after the vote. Yet he noted that as other states have legalized marijuana, a black market may begin to emerge in Idaho, and members of the AIC and the members of the Senate State Affairs Committee want to prevent that from happening.
“The issue is that people will grow pot in Oregon, where it is legal for medical purposes,” Winder told IdahoReporter.com. “Same in Washington, where it is legal for medical and recreational purposes. Once they find out it’s, say, $10 over there, and they can sell it in Idaho for $20, there’s going to be pressure to send it into Idaho and other states.”
Noting that, according to federal law, marijuana is still a “schedule 1 drug,” Winder says “the cities and now the Senate State Affairs Committee are simply asking the federal government to do its job. If an issue arises between two states and across state lines, that has been typically under federal jurisdiction and not just a matter for one state or the other. What we’re saying is appropriate.”
Winder said the committee’s position on federal policing of marijuana is not comparable to the current push for Idaho to comply with the federal Obamacare law and create an insurance exchange.
“They are completely different issues,” Winder noted. “With marijuana, we’re asking the federal government to enforce federal law regarding interstate drug trafficking, and handle an issue between the states.
“With the federal health care law, the Congress was out of control, telling individuals and the states what they have to do, what they have to purchase and so forth. It may be that Idaho’s best bet is to join the other 26 states or so and tell the federal government ‘we will not comply with this (the Obamacare law),” said Winder.