Legislation would prohibit marijuana advertising in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would prohibit commercial advertising for marijuana in Idaho, a move that could potentially stymie ballot initiatives to legalize the drug in the state.

The Senate voted 21-14 to send the bill to the House.

The bill is being fast-tracked, with a public hearing earlier in the day before a Senate panel that was held almost immediately after it was posted, giving the public little opportunity to participate.

Lawmakers noted advertising in western Idaho for marijuana across the border in Oregon, where it’s legal. Lawmakers noted that cigarette and alcohol advertising is banned in Idaho, so advertising for drugs such as marijuana, meth and heroin should also be banned.

Republican Sen. Scott Grow, the bill’s sponsor, after the Senate committee meeting said he wasn’t sure how the measure would affect that signature-gathering attempt for medical marijuana.

“That would take a legal opinion,” Grow said.

During the Senate debate, he showed photos of billboards he said were on Idaho roads advertising marijuana in other states.

“People are being encouraged to violate the law,” he said. “They’re being encouraged to go over and get something they know is illegal in Idaho.”

Some senators also had concerns that magazines containing advertisements for CBD oil might become illegal, causing those possessing them to potentially face a misdemeanor charge.

Republican Sen. Regina Bayer said she gets health supplement magazines, some of which contain advertisements for CBD oil that contains THC, which is illegal in Idaho.

“It’s in my mailbox. It’s on my front door. It’s on my kitchen counter. It’s advertising,” she said. “I really wonder how this bill addresses that and if there are any concerns to be had there.”

Republican Sen. Lee Heider of Twin Falls said his county’s sheriff had a billboard plan to remind people marijuana isn’t legal in Idaho and would stop motorists to confiscate illegal drugs.

“This is just one more step to making Idaho that place we all want to live in and have the freedoms we enjoy,” he said. “But we don’t need the illicit drugs or the problems that comes with them. And to have billboards advertising them seem totally erroneous to me.”