She said the CRJ has a program for underage drinking offense, called the Teen Alcohol Safety Program. First time offenders have to undergo an education curriculum and complete other requirements to avoid a fine.
The decriminalization law would require there be a similar program for marijuana offenses. Cipriano said while the CRJ handles marijuana diversion now, it does so mainly through a reparative board which tailors requirement to each individual.
The Department of Health will likely help create a standardized curriculum, Cipriano said, which may be built separately, tweaked from the TASP program, or merged with TASP to become a more general substance abuse education program.
Cipriano said approximately 40 percent of cases CRJ handles are for people over 16 placed on diversion for marijuana possession. Giving fines for those over 21 caught with less than an ounce may take some of the load off, she said, but it’s also possible that a combination of ignorance and acceptance may lead to more youths coming to CRJ on marijuana offenses. She said not only is it possible many may think marijuana will be legal, children may start to see it in a less negative light. The health risks of marijuana still exist, she said.