Hawaii Senate Committee Approves Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana
Another Hawaii Senate committee approved a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana on Friday.
The legislation would make possession of three grams or less of cannabis punishable by a $30 fine. It also provides for the expungement of prior convictions for low-level marijuana possession.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 8-2 to pass the bill. It was approved by the full House last month and, weeks later, passed two Senate committees in a joint hearing.
No amendments were made at the latest hearing, and the legislation will now head to the Senate floor, likely next week. If approved there, a conference committee will be formed to reconcile differences between the two chambers’ approved versions of the bill.
Other than the decriminalization and expungement provisions, the legislation as it now stands would also establish a cannabis evaluation task force “to make recommendations on changing marijuana use penalties and outcomes in the State.”
While advocates support the bill, some have complained about the three gram threshold, which is significantly smaller than in other states that have decriminalized simple possession.
In New Mexico, for example, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed a bill on Thursday that reduces the penalty for possession of a half ounce or less of marijuana to a $50 fine.
A Texas House committee also recently approved decriminalization legislation that would make possession of one ounce of cannabis or less punishable by a $250 fine.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) has expressed concerns about efforts to legalize marijuana for adult use in the state, but advocates believe he will put his signature on a decriminalization bill. When Ige was a state senator in 2013, he supported decriminalization legislation.
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Photo courtesy of Nicholas C. Morton.