HB 491 recognizes the need to address drug use through alternatives to our current criminal justice system. Under this proposal, individuals found with 0.50 ounces or less of marijuana, with no previous criminal history, will be permitted to enter a diversion program that will result in an infraction versus a misdemeanor charge. As a part of the diversion program, individuals will have to attend four hours of drug education classes in addition to either completing eight hours of community service or paying a fine. Read the full text of HB 491 here.
While this diversion program will likely only benefit a small number of Idahoans, it does begin to address the state’s overwhelming use of jail and prison to punish drug users instead of addressing the public health needs behind cronic drug use.