cannabis education

Dennis Hansen speaks to audience members about the benefits CBD products during a cannabis education event at The Gem on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Hansen, a former Navy mechanic, suffers from gout and began using CBD oil to help with his knee pain.

A citizen initiative to legalize medical cannabis and industrial hemp, via a 2020 ballot initiative, was filed today with Idaho's Secretary of State. 

The Idaho Cannabis Coalition, a new nonprofit with ties to Legalize Idaho and Cannabis Education for Idaho, filed the petition.

The petition must be filed with the Secretary of State's for review before signatures can be collected. 

Bill Esbensen, an Idaho Cannabis Coalition spokesperson, said the initiative is necessary because Idaho legislators won't legalize medical cannabis themselves and are having a hard time pushing a hemp bill through.

Esbensen said this is the fourth time he's worked an a cannabis legalization petition. 

He said this effort is different because the group has influential backers and "a small army" of people who want to see the initiative passed.

"This time we have some money behind us," he said. "People with voices, future stakeholders."

The current requirement to send an initiative to the ballot is signatures from 6 percent of the voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. 

However, a new bill, introduced Monday in the Senate State Affairs Committee, would increase the signature requirements for an initiative or referendum.

The bill would up the requirement to 10 percent of the voters in 32 of the 35 legislative districts, the Idaho Press reported. 

It's unknown whether the new bill, if it passes, would affect the cannabis legalization initiative.

Reporter Ryan Suppe can be reached at 208-542-6762. Follow him on Twitter: @salsuppe.