Weed, pot, reefer, grass, ganja, dope, mary jane, hash, dinkie dow, sticky icky icky ... there are an ton of names for marijuana, and that's because it's very popular. Pot is the most commonly used drug in the state of Idaho, and it is not even close. But that doesn't change the fact that for the time being and the foreseeable future, using pot in Idaho can get you into legal trouble. Whether you are a frequent user yourself, a concerned parent, or something else, I think it is important for people to understand the risks. So I have written up this guide to help.
Is Marijuana legal in Idaho?
Idaho has remained staunchly opposed to allowing marijuana into the state: medical and recreational. However, we are bordered by Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, who have all decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, and Utah and Montana who have decriminalized marijuana for medical purposes.
What is possession?
Idaho law dictates that a person has possession of something if the person knows of its presence and has physical control of it or has the power and intention to control it. So, this means that you may be convicted of possession of marijuana if you have either actual, constructive, or joint possession (pun not intended).
- Actual possession is when you are found with the marijuana on you. For example, in your pocket or purse.
- Constructive possession is when the marijuana is found in a place that you have control over, for example, your car, room, or office. Remember, it is not enough for the police to find marijuana in your room. They must also prove that you knew it was there.
- Joint possession is when the marijuana is found to be controlled by more than one person. For example, when a husband and wife keep their marijuana stashed in their closet.
Misdemeanor or felony?
The severity of the criminal offense of possession of marijuana varies drastically depending on how much weight you possess. In Idaho, possession of up to 3 ounces is a misdemeanor. Possession of an amount greater than 3 ounces is a felony.
How much is 3 ounces?
3 ounces is a significant amount of marijuana. For a heavy smoker, 3 ounces is nearly a month's supply. If you were to put an ounce of marijuana in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag, a general rule of thumb would be that the bag would be filled with a height of four-fingers across. Street value of one ounce of marijuana is anywhere from $100-$300.
What is the maximum punishment for possession of marijuana?
If convicted of felony possession of marijuana, you could face up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. If convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, you could face up to a year in the county jail and/or $1,000 fine.
What is the real punishment for possession of marijuana?
The court can and may punish you in many ways: jail time, Sheriff's labor detail, community service, substance abuse counseling, fines, court costs, and probation. How much of each of these depends on how good of a defense you can present. The average client that I see is usually caught with under an ounce of marijuana. Typically, they will be cited and released for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia because they also have a marijuana pipe with them. Here is generally what to expect.
- Jail: Generally, for a first-time misdemeanor possession of marijuana conviction, the court will sentence you to between 90-180 days of jail, but then suspend all but 0-2 days, placing you on probation. So, in reality you will only have to do up to 2 total days of jail, and the rest is suspended and held over your head for the duration of your probation to make sure that you stay out of trouble. Ordinarily, the judge will allow sentencing alternatives like Sheriff's labor detail or community service to substitute for actual jail. Eight hours of community service is counted as one day of jail. You also get credit for any time you served if you were arrested. Even if you were bailed out after a few hours, this may count as 1 or 2 days of credit (if you were booked before midnight and released after).
- Probation: Probation usually ranges between 1-2 years. Unless there are aggravating circumstances, the probation will be unsupervised. This means you will not have a probation officer. You are simply ordered by the court to stay out of trouble during the probationary period, otherwise you could face the suspended penalties.
- Community service: If placed on probation for a conviction of possession of marijuana, Idaho law requires imposition of 100 hours of community service. However, a good defense attorney will always argue to get around this requirement. For instance, if you plead to the possession of drug paraphernalia instead or are not placed on probation you do not have to complete the 100 hours of community service.
- Fine: Ordinarily it is between $150-$500 plus court costs of $197.50.