Idaho legislative update: Constitutional ban on legal pot advances and lawmakers introduce bill to limit public health authority

FILE - In this March 28, 2019, file photo, pot products line a display case at a marijuana shop in Seattle. A proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the legalization of marijuana in Idaho has moved forward as lawmakers in the conservative state try to halt the increasing acceptance of the drug nationwide. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday,Jan. 27, 2021, to approve a joint resolution that bans all psychoactive drugs not already legal in Idaho. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — As legal weed becomes a reality across the U.S., Idaho is putting up a fight. A proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the legalization of pot in the state moved forward on Friday.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted to approve a joint resolution that bans all psychoactive drugs not already legal in the state. Backers say the state Constitution needs to be changed because neighboring states have approved marijuana use, and it could happen in Idaho.

Those opposed say medical marijuana is needed for residents suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses.

The measure would have to pass the Senate and House with a two-thirds majority before going to voters in Nov. 2022.

Also, a panel of state lawmakers voted to introduce legislation to prevent Idaho public health officials from ordering schools to close or take preventative measures such as requiring masks during public health emergencies.

The Idaho Press reports the House Education Committee voted to introduce the legislation presented by Eagle Republican Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt on Friday. DeMordaunt says the bill stripping authority from state health officials promotes representative government because it places decisions in the hands of local school boards.

She said the bill was one endorsed by a working group of state lawmakers last summer.

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