A new group called the Idaho Cannabis Coalition is campaigning to place medicinal marijuana on the state’s 2020 ballot.

Neighbouring states Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, and Utah have all legalized medical cannabis, as has neighbouring Canada, while Wyoming permits CBD oil and hemp. The group said that Idaho now stands out as “Prohibition Island” in a sea of liberality, and it is determined to affect change.

The effort is spearheaded by former addiction counsellor John Belville, who suffers from a chronic pain condition called peripheral neuropathy. Idaho doctors prescribe him powerful narcotics to treat the condition, and he claims they do not work and are damaging his health.

He went over to neighbouring Oregon and purchased medicinal marijuana to see if it would do a better job. “So I took this little eye dropper and put it under my tongue and waited about 15 minutes and the pain went away,” he said. “I’ll tell you right now, this stuff works.”

Belville has gathered together a group of like-minded Idahoans, including army vet Joe Evans, who refers to the war on drugs “a war on peace”. They have 10 months to try to gather 55,057 signatures spread out across at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts in order for it to go on the ballot. Belville’s son Russ urged the people of Idaho to back the movement so as to benefit sick and disabled people within the state.

First, the petition needs to be approved by officials from the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices, and then the hunt for signatures can begin in earnest.

If it secures enough signatures, the group will march a few blocks to the Secretary of State’s Office to turn in the petition that will appear on the 2020 Idaho ballot. The Belvilles and their fellow campaigners feel confident in their chances of success, as they have polled Idahoans and found them to be “far ahead” of the state’s politicians when it comes to cannabis liberalization.

The group has consulted with legal and political experts across the country that have enjoyed success in seeing marijuana legalized in other states, and they have been raising funds to support the effort in Idaho.