A pro-cannabis group has filed paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office to begin gathering signatures for a medical marijuana legalization initiative. The group New Approach Idaho was founded a few months ago. Its members hope Idaho voters will be able to decide on pot legalization in 2016. New Approach Idaho president William Esbensen says the initiative has three parts.
“We want medical marijuana available to patients that need it with a dispensary program and a licensing program,” Esbensen says. “We also want marijuana decriminalized, to where if you’re caught with three ounces or less it’s an infraction [instead of a misdemeanor or felony.] And there’s also an agricultural part so our farmers can grow hemp.”
To get this initiative on the ballot New Approach Idaho needs 47,623 signatures from registered voters by April 30, 2016. That number must include 6 percent of voters in at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.
Similar petition drives have failed in the past. Last year volunteers gathered fewer than 600 valid signatures, about 1 percent of what was needed to get that initiative on the ballot. Esbensen says that was why a new group was needed to take up the cause.
“Lack of organization, lack of media attention and a lack of funds made the last two petition drives fail,” Esbensen says. “Now the group has grown a lot bigger and a lot more organized and we feel 47,000 signatures should be pretty easy in the next 13 months.”
Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam
Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio