C.L. "Butch" Otter

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter speaks to reporters about the upcoming 2017 legislative session at the State Capitol building Jan. 6, in Boise, Idaho.

Otto Kitsinger

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Friday that he has not changed his position on legalizing wider use of cannabidiol oil.

In 2015, Otter vetoed legislation that would have given people a way to possess cannabidiol oil, which doesn't contain enough THC to cause a high and which some people take to treat seizures but did allow the creation of a limited CBD oil experiment that a small number of children could take part in — Otter said Friday that it had been 25 originally but had expanded to 38.

Speaking to reporters at the Associated Press's annual event previewing the legislative session, Otter also said he has talked to many other governors of states that have legalized medical marijuana, and that at least one governor had told him there had been unintended consequences to legalizing medical marijuana.

“There was a lot of unintended consequences that they hadn’t anticipated,” Otter said. “Almost anybody who goes into a doctor with a hangnail in some of those states can get a medical marijuana card.”

While many states have been liberalizing marijuana laws in recent years — Oregon, Washington and Nevada have legalized recreational use — Idaho hasn't. Utah and Wyoming are the only states bordering Idaho that don't allow for marijuana either medically or recreationally, although both states have legalized CBD oil use in wider contexts than Idaho has.

There isn't much reason to think marijuana will be legalized in Idaho anytime soon, although Idaho Freedom Foundation head Wayne Hoffman said in late November that he does expect legislation allowing for CBD oil use and for possession of certain medical products such as lotions that contain some marijuana.

Idaho's marijuana laws received some wider attention late last year after the arrest of Kelsey Osborne, a Gooding woman who treated her 3-year-old daughter's seizures with a smoothie containing marijuana butter. Osborne's criminal case is making its way through the courts, but she has lost custody of her children as a result of the incident.

House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, expressed support for changing Idaho’s marijuana laws on Friday. While answering a question about changing the law on pensions for lawmakers who move on to other state jobs after their tenure, Erpelding said he was frustrated at the attention that and other “little hot-button issues” get when other issues that affect more people, such as marijuana laws, don’t get as much discussion.

Erpelding said lawmakers should discuss decriminalizing marijuana, noting the number of neighboring states that have legalized it.

“At a minimum, we shouldn’t be tossing them in jail for driving through our state,” he said.

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