During a ten day period in April, fines for the possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia were the most expensive fines levied for any crime committed in rural Idaho County.
One 58 year-old man was fined $703 for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Another 46 year-old man was fined $400 for possession of marijuana.
But if you’re caught with drugs other than marijuana in Idaho County, the fines are lighter.
A 37 year-old man was caught possessing drugs and paraphernalia that weren’t marijuana (presumably meth or heroin) and lying to police. While he did serve five days in jail, the total fines for his drug crimes came to $395.
While we’re relieved to see the two men possessing marijuana didn’t serve any jail time (aside, perhaps, from time in booking), we’re astonished to see marijuana possession is being fined higher than crimes that affect the wellbeing of others.
Like the 45 year-old man who committed domestic violence. Yes, 90 days in jail, but only served 12 days, 78 days suspended, and received a fine of just $187.50. The other 52 year-old man who committed domestic violence and had drug paraphernalia also got 90 days in jail, but only served 44 days, 46 days suspended, and his total fines were $385.
Most crime in Idaho County relates to traffic stops. The 26 year-old driving without privileges? Fined $322.50. Same for the 41 year-old with the same charge. The 52 year-old with the same charge and a failure to appear charge was fined $387.50, total. A 46 year-old who operated a vehicle without a valid license was fined $307.50.
Perhaps not having a license isn’t the biggest risk to the public. But what about the 49 year-old man driving around with an open container of alcohol and no driver’s license? Fined $307.50. Or the 62 year-old man with no car registration or liability insurance? Fined $198.50.
A couple of passengers in other cars with open containers of alcohol were each fined $102. Then there were numerous speeding tickets, fined between $93 and $158.
Fines for marijuana are certainly preferable to jail time. But any system that fines someone far more for some pot in a pipe as it fines someone driving around with an open container of alcohol and no driver’s license, beating their domestic partner, or excessive speeding has got its priorities out of whack.