click to enlarge The Gem State is surrounded. - DAVID KING PHOTO
David King photo
The Gem State is surrounded.

To Idaho lawmakers, marijuana may as well be an invasive species. The state is surrounded on all sides and, despite their best efforts, it's making its way in.

Last week the Associated Press reported that Oregon's recreational marijuana market is booming along the Idaho border. It's a story of regional importance that appeared in news outlets from Coeur d'Alene to Portland, as well as far-flung Youngstown, Ohio, and nationally thanks to ABC, Fox News and others.

Its viral nature was spurred by the story's lede, which stated sales along the state line are 420 percent higher than the statewide average and the comical final sentence explaining that "420 is a colloquial term referencing marijuana or cannabis consumption."

It's not the first such story, however. In October, in this very section of the Inlander, we reported on a similar trend here in Washington. It likely won't be the last, either.

Both of Idaho's neighbors to the west have legalized recreational marijuana. Nevada, to the south, and Canada, to the north, have as well. Montana has a legal medical marijuana market and Wyoming allows for CBD treatments. Even the conservative religious state of Utah saw a ballot measure pass in 2018 legalizing medical marijuana.

Idaho remains steadfast in its opposition to the weed's spread. And now America is taking notice.

The state Senate expected this day would come. In 2013, with the passing of Senate Concurrent Resolution 112, Idaho legislators stated their opposition to all forms of marijuana legalization. The text of that resolution states, "drug legalization laws in neighboring states have already adversely impacted Idaho through cultural acceptance of drug use that reduces the perception of harm among children and increases drug use."

How will a viral story like this impact Idaho's stance? Could it force lawmakers to reconsider things? After all, the world of weed has changed considerably since 2013. There has been a cultural acceptance of marijuana use. It's happened among Idahoans, who now spend money out of state in order to get it. It's happened nationally, with people across America laughing at a serious news story about the number 420.

Lawmakers can issue statements against the drug and governors can veto bills — as Butch Otter did in 2015 to keep CBD oil out of the hands of children with epilepsy — but marijuana is making its way into the Gem State regardless. And now everybody knows it. ♦

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