Residents of Idaho, the only state in the U.S. without a law for medical or therapeutic marijuana, have been flocking to dispensaries along the borders of Oregon and Washington where marijuana is legal, according to a recent report by Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. In Oregon specifically, marijuana sales are the strongest in the state along the border it shares with Idaho. Estimates by the Economic Office indicate marijuana sales along the Idaho border represent a whopping 420% increase over the state average. On average, Oregon’s marijuana sales were $201 per adult resident last year. But along the Idaho border, that number ballooned to over $800 per resident.
The Border Effect Brings In Big Sales
Both Oregon and Washington marijuana sales seem to be benefitting from what is known as the “border effect.” A border effect describes the phenomenon when two neighboring states have different laws, causing residents of one area to travel to the nearby state to take advantage of the different laws. Another well-known example consists of Southwest Washington residents traveling to Oregon to purchase products without paying a sales tax. With marijuana still fully illegal in Idaho, the trend in border sales doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. In fact, analyst predict for sales to grow approximately 80% over the next ten years as incomes rise, the state’s population increases, and marijuana becomes more socially acceptable and usage rates rise.
Idaho Petition Aimed At Legalizing Medical Marijuana
While there is no current legislation pending surrounding marijuana legalization, some are optimistic about Idaho’s chances of legalizing marijuana. On July 30, 2019, a petition was filed with the Secretary of State known as the “Idaho Medical Marijuana Act”. This petition would require 55,000 valid signatures in order to be put on a ballot and presented to Idaho voters in the November 2020 general election. If the petition receives the required number of signatures and if Idaho residents vote positively for the “Act” it has the potential of changing the law. This is known as the “ballot Initiative” process. The Act essentially would make it possible for any citizen of Idaho to either qualify for the drug medically or allow for recreational growth on their property.
Notwithstanding the ballot initiative, there is still resistance to legalization in Idaho, even amongst democratic politicians. Pro-legalization advocates believe that more information on the long term effects of marijuana usage is needed to sway those in opposition. It is not fully known how the coronavirus will affect legalization efforts in Idaho, but it is clear from the data that citizens along the border of Oregon and Washington are in favor of legalizing pot. With only 8 states in the U.S. that have not decriminalized or legalized marijuana in some form, the strong sales along the Idaho border are a good indication that Idaho soon may be taken off of that list.