Bill Description: House Bill 108 would allow limited access to medically recommended cannabis for patients suffering from certain severe medical conditions.
Analyst Note: There are many ways House Bill 108 could be modified to increase individual freedom, but this analysis looks at the bill in comparison to what Idahoans face today — a blanket prohibition on a necessary medication. Every day that goes by under total prohibition is a day in which thousands of Idahoans suffer needlessly due to the actions and stubbornness of government. It would certainly be possible to remedy this situation without creating or expanding government.
Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?
Unfortunately, House Bill 108 does expand and create new functions of government. It requires the establishment of an electronic verification system to track the practitioners recommending medical cannabis and the patients using it. This system would be accessible to state and local law enforcement.
The bill requires special registration for those practitioners who wish to recommend medical cannabis. It also requires patients to obtain a "medical cannabis patient card" and pay an as-yet-undetermined fee for the card to be allowed to purchase their recommended medication.
The bill does not allow any growing or production of cannabis and requires that patients visit a limited number of heavily regulated medical cannabis pharmacies in order to obtain their medicine.
Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?
House Bill 108 leans heavily on licensure as a means of controlling all aspects of access to medical cannabis. Indeed, the bill contains more than 80 references to licenses, licensure, and other variations of the word.
In addition to requiring practitioners to be licensed and receive a special registration to recommend medical cannabis, the legislation requires them to "complete training as determined by the board in cooperation with other applicable licensing boards."
Licensing mandates are likewise imposed on “medical cannabis pharmacies,” “medical cannabis pharmacists,” and “medical cannabis pharmacy nurses.”
The bill also stipulates that prospective medical cannabis pharmacy owners, directors, and agents, as well as prospective medical cannabis caregivers, are all required to undergo criminal history and background checks.
Physicians licensed under chapter 18, title 54, Idaho Code, regardless of the physician's status as a practitioner, are not allowed to “act as a medical cannabis pharmacy agent, have a financial or voting interest of two percent (2%) or greater in a medical cannabis pharmacy, or have the power to direct or cause the management or control of a medical cannabis pharmacy.”
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?
Fees will be imposed on patients when they obtain a "medical cannabis patient card," and fees will be imposed on caregivers who obtain a "medical cannabis caregiver card." Fees will also be imposed on those who seek to run a medical cannabis pharmacy.
In addition to the typical 6% sales tax, which will be charged on all medical cannabis and medical cannabis devices, an additional 2% excise tax will be imposed.
The sales tax is estimated to generate $20-$33 million annually and the excise tax another $7-$11 million. To be clear, this money will be taken from patients when they purchase the medicine recommended to them by a doctor.
Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Examples include the use of tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups, businesses, politicians, or government employees with special favors or perks; transfer payments; and hiring additional government employees. Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth?
One of the reasons why laws against the possession and use of medical cannabis exist is to protect the drug companies’ patents for opioids and other drugs that are far more dangerous and sometimes less effective than medical cannabis. The use of the federal schedule 1 drug classification scheme to deny patients access to safe and effective medicine has been an intentional effort to allow drug companies to profit at the expense of suffering people.
By allowing even limited access to medical cannabis, the mandated redistribution of wealth to pharmaceutical companies will be reduced.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Under Idaho law, patients who require medical cannabis are forced to leave the state, violate the law, or suffer needlessly. House Bill 108 will allow some of the people who desperately need medical cannabis a narrow and expensive path to legally obtain the medicine they require.
Saving any Idahoan from criminal prosecution for possessing a needed medication is a good thing.
Current law inflicts penalties on individuals for using a banned medicine, but they are not the only ones harmed. Caregivers, too, have faced prosecution and incarceration — for their benevolent use of cannabis to relieve the suffering of others. While House Bill 108 offers no respite for Idahoans imprisoned for doing their jobs, it does provide a narrow path for legally assisting some of the Idahoans languishing needlessly due to the ban on this natural medicine.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
House Bill 108 allows registered practitioners to inform patients about the benefits of medical cannabis and to acknowledge the well-documented medicinal properties of the plant. Existing Idaho code lists cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, which effectively forbids practitioners from openly discussing its medicinal uses. This is a free speech violation.
Additionally, the government uses the schedule 1 drug classification to deny that a drug has medical uses and to prohibit the research and experimentation necessary to prove this claim false.
Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules? Examples include citing federal code without noting as it is written on a certain date, using state resources to enforce federal law, and refusing to support and uphold the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism?
Allowing patients to possess and use medical cannabis in spite of ongoing federal prohibition is a meaningful act of nullification against illogical and unconstitutional federal intrusion outside of its proper realm.