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Idaho advances constitutional ban on legalizing marijuana in the state

Idaho advances constitutional ban on legalizing marijuana in the state
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Idaho state lawmakers on Friday advanced a constitutional amendment seeking to prevent the legalization of marijuana and other psychoactive drugs not already legal in the state. 

The Associated Press reported that the proposed resolution won approval in a 6-2 decision by the Senate State Affairs Committee, with members voting along party lines. 

While the constitutional amendment seeks to address a range of psychoactive drugs, debate on the amendment centered largely around marijuana as surrounding states have already legalized pot as part of a growing nationwide acceptance of the drug. 

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Idaho is one of only three states that does not allow possession of even low amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. 

Recreational and medical marijuana has been legalized in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Nevada, while Utah allows medical marijuana. Wyoming allows CBD products containing less than 0.3 percent of THC. 

Idaho allows the sale of CBD products in the deeply-red state, but they are not allowed to contain any THC. 

The proposed amendment’s sponsor, Republican State Sen. Scott Grow, has repeatedly argued against the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medical use. 

“When drugs are legalized that are currently illegal, it increases health care costs and crime,” Grow said, according to the AP. “This is about money. It’s not about caring for people who might have pain or sickness.”

Opponents of the resolution, however, argue that medical marijuana can be extremely beneficial for those with chronic or terminal illnesses. 

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State Sen. Michelle Stennett (D) told the AP that passage of the proposed amendment “would prohibit Idaho doctors and patients from making medical choices.” 

“This is a direct impact on the ability of Idahoans to do good medical health care,” Stennett added. 

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In a lawsuit filed in late November, officials claimed the constitutional amendment, Amendment A, violated rules against amending more than one subject at once. Amendment A had incorporated legalizing marijuana, regulating its recreational use, taxing it, ensuring access to medical marijuana and requiring that state lawmakers pass laws regulating hemp.