A proposed bill to legalize medicinal cannabis oil in Idaho is dead after an unusual, rowdy, and apparently illegal meeting of state lawmakers. HB 577 already passed the House in a veto-proof majority, but the strong feelings of key figures in the state Senate have now blocked the bill, as reported by The Spokesman-Review.
The measure would have allowed medical patients to legally use non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Currently, 30 children in the state with severe epilepsy are being treated with CBD oil in a clinical study, and have experienced a reduction in their seizures, according to the Spokesman.
Republican Sen. Tony Potts said that the bill was being blocked in normal legislative procedure and asked for a special hearing on the matter by Idaho’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
“I think we have to remember that we represent people, people who vote for us, people who are our friends,” Potts said. “If your constituents are anything like mine, there is a large amount of individuals who desire the health benefits of this.”
While Potts defended the bill before the committee, Chairman Lee Heider interrupted him, and said that the conversation could continue in his office. Though one member of the committee argued that this violated Senate rules, the discussion was moved to Heider’s office. An Associated Press reporter was denied access to the behind-closed-doors meeting, but could here participants shouting through the door.
“The governor’s office doesn’t want this bill, the prosecutors don’t want this bill, the office on drug policy doesn’t want this bill,” yelled Heider.
The meeting lasted for six minutes, but was interrupted by a reporter from Idaho Public Television, who repeatedly knocked on the door and reminded the panel inside that their discussion violated Senate laws which state that “all meetings of any standing, select, or special committee shall be open to the public at all times.”
Back on the committee floor, a motion was made to hold the bill in committee, a move which stops it from continuing in the legislative process. Potts voiced concerns over the motion, but members of the panel overruled his objection.
A similar bill was passed in the Idaho legislature back in 2015, but Gov. Butch Otter vetoed it after receiving pressure from law enforcement groups.
Photo via Flickr user Dawn Ellner