Idaho

At Gov. Butch Otter's Request, Idaho Senator Goes to Crazy Lengths to Kill CBD Oil Bill

"The governor's office does not want to hear this bill....The state police do not want to hear this bill," committee chairman explains behind closed doors.

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Andre Jenny Stock Connection Worldwide/Newscom

Drug warriors triumphed over another effort to legalize cannabidiol oil, a marijuana extract, in Idaho after a wild legislative committee hearing ended with a possible violation of the state's open meeting laws.

At an unscheduled closed-door meeting, state Sen. Lee Heider (R–Twin Falls), chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, was heard explaining that the bill could not pass because Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and other anti-marijuana influences in the state capitol did not want to see CBD oil legalized in the state.

"The governor's office does not want to hear this bill. The Office of Drug Policy does not want to hear this bill. The prosecutors do not want to hear this bill. The state police do not want to hear this bill," Heider can be heard saying on a recording made by Associated Press reporter Kimberlee Kruesi. Kruesi posted the audio clip on her social media accounts after the hearing.

"Unless they fire me as committee chairman, it will not be heard by my committee," Heider says on the tape.

Moments earlier, state Sen. Tony Potts (R-Idaho Falls) had called for the committee to consider the CBD oil bill, which passed the House with a 59-11 vote last week. Video obtained by Reason shows that Potts' motion was seconded and that Potts spoke in favor of the bill for about a minute before Heider cut him off, declared the committee to be "at ease," and asked the members to join him in his private office.

Doing so may have broken Idaho's open meeting requirements, according to Kruesi.

"All meetings of any standing, select, or special committee shall be open to the public at all times," according to Idaho Senate rules.

Heider did not return calls for comment.

Whether it violated the law or not, the incident certainly demonstrates the absurd lengths that Idaho policymakers are willing to go to prevent CBD oil from being legalized there.

Made from the stalks of the cannabis plant—as opposed to coming from the flowers, or "buds," of the plant, like marijuana—CBD oil lacks high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. So CBD does not produce the same feeling of being high that comes from smoking or eating cannabis products with higher concentrations of THC. In states where it is legal—and even in places where it is not—CBD oil is commonly used as a treatment for epileptic seizures that are not well controlled by more traditional medication.

As Reason reported in November 2016, it was for precisely that purpose that state lawmakers in Idaho first began exploring legalization of CBD oil during the 2015 legislative session. After the bill passed the state legislature, Otter vetoed it. Our reporting revealed a behind-the-scenes effort organized by the state's Office of Drug Policy to derail the CBD legislation.

Officially, the Office of Drug Policy is tasked with "providing policy, education, prevention and treatment resources" and works toward "an Idaho free from the devastating social, health and economic consequences of substance abuse" by funding anti-drug initiatives and overseeing substance abuse programs. Politically, the office serves as a nexus for the various special interests that favor the status quo of drug prohibition in Idaho, giving them a special place within the apparatus of state government.

Those special interests killed the CBD oil bill in 2015. To date, Otter is the only governor in the country to veto a CBD oil bill. Last year, the same special interests successfully derailed another attempt to legalize the drug. (Otter vetoed civil asset forfeiture reforms and licensing reforms within the past year too—he's fully abandoned any libertarian views he might have held as a young politician.)

Those same prohibitionist entities, no surprise, are the ones mentioned by Heider in his private meeting with the members of his committee.

"It's incredibly upsetting that a legislator would choose politics over people," says Dustin Hurst, communications director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a free market think tank that backs CBD legalization. "Sick and vulnerable Idahoans needed a champion in Lee Heider, but he utterly and completely failed them."

Idaho's opposition to even this very limited form of medical marijuana makes the state a major outlier. Since 2013, 17 states have legalized low-THC cannabis oil for limited medical purposes. Republican governors have signed 14 of those bills, including governors of such deep red states as Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and even Utah.

While more than half the country has legalized marijuana for medical purposes and more states are moving to legalize the drug recreationally, Idaho remains steadfastly committed to a failed policy of prohibition.

Keeping CBD oil (and other medical cannabis products) illegal does real harm to the people who could benefit from using it. People like Josh Phillips, a high school wrestler who suffers from untreatable epilepsy. Phillips' story was at the center of Reason's 2015 feature about the fight over CBD oil in Idaho. It also doesn't help Katie Donahue, an Idaho resident who says she literally has prayed for death because she can't find a way to treat her seizures.

"I think we have to remember that we as legislators represent people. People who vote for us, people who are our neighbors, people who are our friends," says Potts. "There are a large amount of individuals who desire health benefits that come from this CBD oil."

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28 responses to “At Gov. Butch Otter's Request, Idaho Senator Goes to Crazy Lengths to Kill CBD Oil Bill

  1. Not surprised one bit.

    1. I told you guys you should have voted for Lipstick Otter.

      1. ‘Otter’ is also gay slang for a more slender bear.

    1. To date, Otter is the only governor in the country to veto a CBD oil bill. Last year, the same special interests successfully derailed another attempt to legalize the drug. (Otter vetoed civil asset forfeiture reforms and licensing reforms within the past year too?he’s fully abandoned any libertarian views he might have held as a young politician.)

      REEDING IZ 4 FAGGITZ AN CUCKZ!

      1. No. Reason should have known he was going to change his stances.

        1. To be fair, most politicians do as soon as they get a taste of that sweet, sweet power.

          1. Is being the governor of Idaho really that powerful?

        2. Well he has to change stances after a while. Crouching in a chicken coop with your pants down like that can lead to some major back pain.

          Or wait, did you mean Otter?

          1. Maybe he should take a WIDE STANCE.

            (Wonder if anybody will get that reference?)

    2. Ol’ Butch burned the cosmos worse than Jeff Flake.

      I 1st read that with the last letter in “cosmos” as a soft “s”, & thought, wow, that’s severe!

  2. “The governor’s office does not want to hear this bill. The Office of Drug Policy does not want to hear this bill. The prosecutors do not want to hear this bill. The state police do not want to hear this bill,”

    And what about the people of Idaho?

    Fuck em’

    1. And what about the people of Idaho?

      Fuck em’

      What do you think this is? A Republic with democratically elected representatives?

  3. An easy fix is to put it to a referendum so the citizens of Idaho can vote on it. Before the vote, have the newscasts show the people who suffer ad nauseaum and it will pass in a landslide. Here in SC, a mother showed a video of her child going through seizure after seizure and the state legistature, having seen these videos and spoken to this woman passed CBD oil through unanimously.

    I dated a girl who has a special needs child. She’s nonverbal, on the autism spectrum, and has to wear diapers even today (she’s twelve). On top of all that she also has a seizure disorder. I’ve seen people die and to this day watching that child have a massive seizure is the worst fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It almost makes me wish that this Heider asshole would get the same disorders that plague others so maybe he’d understand.

    Since she’s been using CBD oil, her seizures have been milder and less frequent.

    1. Off-topic, but I originally read that as “I dated a girl who was a special needs child.” And then I got to “(she’s twelve)” and was like, wait, WHAT?

      That said, I wish her luck. Both the girl you dated and her daughter.

  4. Made from the stalks of the cannabis plant?as opposed to coming from the flowers, or “buds,” of the plant, like marijuana?CBD oil lacks high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

    Doesn’t matter, it comes from TEH DEVIL’S WEED and is therefore EVUL. Legalize this and next thing you know the 2 Negroes that live in Idaho will be smoking marijuana, listening to jazz music, and seducing the white women. Can’t have that. /sarc

    1. Doesn’t matter, it comes from TEH DEVIL’S WEED and is therefore EVUL.

      I think vaping has proven this to be a lie. Produce fully synthetic THC in a lab with nary a ‘WEED’ in sight and they’d still have a problem with smoking, marijuana, Negroes, jazz, and loose women.

      1. Nobody has a problem with loose women until those women are their daughters.

        1. Well I sure hope so. Jealousy and incest don’t mix.

  5. The antis are in it purely for the symbolism. They’re demonstrating their sincerity in being anti-hippie by showing they’ll even sacrifice the health of some very sick people to keep the hippies from having a symbolic victory by getting something from their signature plant on the legal market. Parading persons w severe epilepsy as victims helps the antis demostrate how serious they are; they appreciate the opp’ty to show their sentiment off.

    1. Do you think they would we able to hold on to that if they came face to face with one of these sick people? Is their faith as unshakeable as Romney’s ?

        1. Man, who are all those commenters?

      1. They would tell one of those sick people, “Thank you for the sacrifice you’re making to let us tick off the hippies.”

  6. From what I know of its pharmacology, CBD is actually a functional antagonist for cannabinoid receptors. Not only does it not get you high, it decreases the effects of agonists like THC. It makes you less high.

    Whenever you hear an old person talking about how different marijuana is today, it’s because of the ratio of THC to CBD. It’s increased 100-fold, partially due to the drug war encouraging growers to make more potent drugs to cut down on smuggling volume. Many of the desired effects of marijuana come from CBD: sedation, nausea suppression, appetite stimulation. THC is a stimulant that can induce (temporary) psychotic symptoms in vulnerable populations, especially those prone to schizophrenia. Even worse are the chemicals sprayed on legal alternatives like “spice.” Unlike THC, which is a partial agonist for cannabinoid receptors, synthetic cannabinoids are full agonists and exert much more profound effects, and have even induce permanent psychoses.

    The Drug War: because prohibition is a profitable racket.

  7. I mean, can you blame them?

    Look at the carnage legal CBD and THC has caused in neighboring Washington and Oregon!

  8. You know what I don’t get, you can make CBD oil from hemp, it doesn’t have to be cannabis; and it’s claimed to be legal in all 50, how does that work?

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