Idaho Bill To Set $420 Mandatory Minimum Fine For Marijuana Possession Stalls In House Committee

“That’s the judge’s discretion, and I hate to keep taking judges’ discretion away from them.”

By Clark Corbin, Idaho Capital Sun

The Idaho House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee voted Thursday to hold a bill in committee that would have created a new $420 mandatory minimum fine for marijuana possession.

The committee’s vote prevented House Bill 606 from advancing to the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives for a vote, likely killing the bill for the year.

If the bill would have passed into law, it would have created a mandatory minimum fine of $420 for anyone convicted of possessing less than 3 ounces of marijuana in Idaho. Rep. Bruce Skaug, a Nampa Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said he backed the bill because it would send a message Idaho is tough on marijuana.

All of Idaho’s neighboring states except for Wyoming have legalized either medical cannabis like Utah or recreational marijuana like Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

But several legislators from both political parties had concerns about the bill. Some said the mandatory minimum fine takes away a judge’s discretion. Others said the mandatory minimum fine may jeopardize some people’s ability to afford housing or food following a low-level, nonviolent drug possession conviction once the fine, court costs and attorney’s fees are all added up.

“That’s the judge’s discretion, and I hate to keep taking judges’ discretion away from them,” Rep. Clay Handy, R-Burley, said during the meeting.

This story was first published by Idaho Capital Sun.

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