Last November, citizens went to the polls in both Colorado and Washington and approved the statewide legalization of marijuana. In Idaho however, possession of pot remains illegal and enforcement remains the same.
“For the BSU community and folks coming in from other states, it might be a good idea to remind them that Idaho laws are different than in Colorado and Washington.” said Lynn Hightower, Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise Police Department.
“If you have up to an ounce, that’s a misdemeanor, any more than that and you get a felony,” Hightower said.
Students receiving financial aid who are arrested for marijuana possession in the state of Idaho can lose their loans if convicted as stipulated by Federal Student Aid terms.
Though students arrested may lose eligibility for school funds, they can be reinstated by completing a drug rehabilitation course with two random drug tests.
Hightower stated that Boise Police haven’t noticed a large spike in arrests for marijuana possession and distribution as a result of neighboring state’s legislation.
“From a local enforcement point of view it really hasn’t changed what the Boise Police Department is doing or seeing,” Hightower said.
While marijuana arrests may have increased on Idaho’s roads and highways, things have stayed the same in the Treasure Valley.
“I have heard that it’s changed what the Idaho State Police is seeing, but that’s a different type of enforcement,” Hightower said. “Boise Police handle more urban, city areas.”
Both Colorado and Washington have already legalized personal possession of up to an ounce for those over 21 however, commercial reefer outlets won’t be available in both states until early next year.
“Maybe down the road it will impact the department but people who live here are aware of Idaho laws as they are,” Hightower said.
Students at Boise State have mixed opinions of the drug’s legal status in the Gem State.
“I think it actually should be legal here,” said sophomore psychology major Genee Parker. “We would make a lot more money taxing it and bringing more revenue in and our state would flourish.”
Parker sees the illegalization of marijuana as pointless since countless people use the drug every day, regardless of whether it is lawful to do so.
“If you think about how we did with prohibition of alcohol, people are going to smoke marijuana,” Parker said. “It’s not like doing coke or any of the hardcore drugs, people are gonna keep doing it. Other states are legalizing it and the negative effects haven’t been too bad.”
Parker thinks Idaho should model potential legalization after it’s neighbors, making public use and consumption behind the wheel a crime.
“Sure it could be considered a gateway drug and addictive, but not in all cases,” Parker said. “Some of the laws against it are a little harsh and should be more lenient, but you should still have measure in place.”
Junior psychology major Caitlin Donlin thinks those who want to break the law in Idaho should be intelligent enough to get away with it.
“My opinion is that if you are going to be irresponsible enough to do a drug knowing that it’s illegal, you are going to pay the price,” Donlin said. “I would keep the law the way it is.”
Donlin thinks the current Idaho laws are in place to protect the health and lives of citizens.
“You have to do those things responsibly otherwise there are going to be punishments and those punishments are in place to keep the masses safe,” Donlin said. “ A drunk driver could kill people on the road and smoking marijuana could do the same thing.”