ONTARIO, Ore. – Oregon voters will decide next week if they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Measure 80 is a divisive topic that could have a huge impact in Idaho.
The proposal would take legalized medicinal marijuana to another level.
It would mean anyone, over the age of 21, could legally buy the drug, for any reason, from licensed stores.
Law enforcement in Canyon County say the change could be catastrophic for Idaho.
"When we regulate an industry like we regulate liquor, we can have a much greater influence, much greater control, and we will see significant tax revenue and significant job creation," said Measure 80 campaign spokesman Roy Kaufman.
Kaufman says the proposed law would create a commission to regulate the sale of marijuana, its taxes, and license the stores where consumers could buy it. He believes the illegal trafficking of the drug would drop.
"Once you take away the black market forces by making it a legal and regulated and taxed marketplace, you take away the incentive for dealers and cartels," said Kaufman.
But officers in Canyon County disagree, and worry about what would happen when those buying marijuana in Oregon drive back to Idaho.
"It's going to be harder for us. It's going to compound the issue that we already face. It's illegal in the state of Idaho, period. Whether recreational or medical use," said Canyon County Sheriff's spokesman Kieran Donahue.
Donahue calls the possibility of legalized marijuana a Pandora’s box because there's no way to check every car and every driver for the drug.
“It's going to be an immense problem because there is certainly not going to be any way to regulate it,” said Donahue.
The voters we spoke with in Ontario were split.
"Just my immediate reaction is that it seems a little safer than alcohol," said Jessica Robertson.
"I think it would be good for Oregon because people wouldn't have to be hiding all the time, and I think that the state would make a lot of money on taxing it, so I think that everybody would be in a happier mood," said Rebecca Ortega.
"It just doesn't seem like it's a good thing to have in our public system, where anybody who felt like they needed it could get a hold of it and then use it, maybe during work, or in the workplace," said Elizabeth McKinney.
"I think it's the wrong thing for this community, especially our kids. It's a big, oh man," said Rosario Santana.
Measure 80 supporters say if passed, it would bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to Oregon. The proposal would also include the farming and regulation of hemp.
Similar measures are also on the ballot next week in Colorado and Washington.