State Legislature Looking At Bill To Ease First-Time Pot Possession Punishment In Idaho

Feb 12, 2019

A measure that passed a committee in the statehouse would let first-time offenders found with a small amount of marijuana have their misdemeanor reclassified as an infraction.
Credit Alexodus / Flickr

A measure to ease the punishment for a first-time offense of possessing marijuana passed a committee in the legislature unanimously.

The proposal comes from Boise Democrat John Gannon. His bill would allow somebody convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession to have the conviction reclassified as an infraction. Gannon was adamant while addressing the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee that his proposal was only intended for first-time offenders.

Gannon told lawmakers after a person was convicted, he or she would have options.

“[The offender] pays a fine of $250 or eight hours of community service, and has four hours of drug and alcohol education, then that person is eligible to receive an infraction,” Gannon told the committee.

Another stipulation in his proposal is that the offender could only have half-an-ounce or less of marijuana.

Hammett Republican Christy Zito raised a point needing clarification in Gannon’s bill.

“It reads, ‘shall be restricted to all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis,’” Zito announced. “Does that need to be changed to clarify the difference there will be between marijuana and hemp?”

The legislature is currently weighing a measure that would bring Idaho into accord with the recently-signed Farm Bill, which does not consider hemp – a less potent cousin of marijuana – to be a drug.

Lawmakers said the language should remain unchanged and pointed out other parts of Idaho code would need to be updated to mark the distinction. While Gannon’s bill was introduced, it’s still several steps away from becoming law.

For more local news, follow the KBSX newsroom on Twitter @KBSX915

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio