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Senate Pushes Anti-Pot Measure

“There is a national effort to legalize marijuana, not only for medical purposes, but for recreational purposes.”


Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Luke Malek already knows how he's going to vote on Senate Concurrent Resolution 112--a toothless bill that states Idaho should never legalize marijuana for any purpose.

"Having been a prosecutor, I know what a farce medical marijuana is," Malek said in a wide-ranging conversation for this week's Citizen feature.

Malek will have his chance soon enough, after the Idaho Senate voted 29-5 to send the measure to the House.

"[Marijuana] is a significant problem," said the resolution's sponsor, Boise Republican Sen. Chuck Winder. "There is a national effort to legalize marijuana; not only for medical purposes, but for recreational purposes."

Winder pointed to November 2012 decisions by Washington and Colorado voters to legalize recreational use of marijuana, as well as Oregon's continued acceptance of medical marijuana.

"Idaho is a targeted state," said Winder. "Idaho continues to see increased marijuana busts on our interstates and it's impacting our communities, our citizens and our children."

While Winder's measure claims that Idaho has been "targeted for a 2014 medical marijuana initiative" and that pot legalization has led to "social, economic and legal chaos," it does nothing more than assert that the Legislature "takes this opportunity to state its opposition" to the legal use of marijuana for any purpose.

Ketchum Democratic Sen. Michelle Stennett told Winder that his resolution was "chasing ghosts that haven't appeared yet."

"The part that disturbs me with this resolution is its overreach," Stennett said, arguing on behalf of cancer patients who turn to marijuana for relief from chemotherapy treatments. "Please don't dismiss this."

Boise Democratic Sen. Branden Durst echoed Stennett's plea, asking, "Is this the right fight to pick?"

But in his final argument, Winder asked, "How far do you lower the bar?"

Ultimately Winder won out, with 28 senators from both parties supporting his resolution and only five Democrats--Moscow Sen. Dan Schmidt and Boise Sens. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Elliot Werk--joining Durst and Stennett in voting no.

Meanwhile, Malek anxiously awaits his opportunity to weigh in on SCR 112. The Coeur d'Alene Republican is a member of the House State Affairs Committee, which will first consider the measure when it surfaces on the House side of the Idaho Legislature.