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Idaho Bill Would Decrease Marijuana Possession Penalty

Representatives John Gannon and Eric Redman have introduced a bill to decrease penalties for marijuana possession. A first time offense would result in a civil penalty rather than a criminal misdemeanor charge. The legislation would apply to possessing one-half ounce or less.

The penalty would be participation in a four-hour drug and alcohol class and either community service assignments or a $250 fine, according to Boise State Public Radio. Here’s the catch – until all conditions assigned by the judge are met, the charge will still show as a misdemeanor.

Representative Gannon said, “This is not legalization, but it is a recognition that if an offender wants to take care of the problem, society will not punish the offender forever with a criminal conviction.”

The effort is to help those that do choose to use marijuana to still have productive lives that aren’t compromised from a drug conviction. Drug convictions can prevent students from obtaining some types of federal loans, it may prevent someone from obtaining a stable residence or obtaining a stable job.

Gannon also said, “The reality of society is that people, especially when they are younger, make mistakes and I don’t think a lifetime criminal record is appropriate.”

The bill has been introduced by the Idaho House Judiciary and Rules Committee. A hearing has not been scheduled yet.