Sen. Grant Burgoyne

Sen. Grant Burgoyne

A Democratic state senator introduced a bill Tuesday to decriminalize drug use in private places while also allowing civil commitments for drug abuse, writes Post Register reporter Nathan Brown. Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said his hope is to start a conversation about moving the focus of drug policy in Idaho to treatment rather than punishment.

“I have heard from many of my constituents that there are too many people in Idaho prisons,” he said. “Idaho has a drug addiction problem, and we cannot arrest our way out of it. To be clear, I am not asking that we legalize drug use, but we should consider decriminalization. We need to start treating drug addiction with robust rehabilitation. I am hopeful that my legislation will start the conversation with lawmakers, law enforcement, and others about how we treat Idahoans, especially young Idahoans, who are suffering from drug addiction.”

Burgoyne’s bill would amend the state’s drug laws that punish possession, changing them to “possession with intent to deliver” and thereby decriminalizing possession for personal use. It would also say that people who are using drugs can, under certain circumstances, be put into protective custody or into drug treatment, following the same judicial procedure as is used now for involuntary mental health commitments. Possible circumstances include when someone is intoxicated or in withdrawal, if they are using drugs while pregnant, if they are likely to injure themselves or others, or if they have “lost self-control, demonstrated by a repeated pattern of failure to meet social, financial or occupational responsibilities.”

You can read Brown's full story here at postregister.com, or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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