Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Falters in House
by Dave Smith
***Updated April 4 to correct bill number.***
The last remaining bill in the state Legislature dealing with personal use of marijuana has died in a House committee.
Senate Bill 472, which would have decriminalized possession of the substance, was approved 23-1 in the Senate before moving over to the House of Representatives on March 5.
Since then it sailed through two committees and two floor votes before being re-referred today to the House Judiciary Committee.
That committee’s chairman, Rep. Karl Rhoads, told Big Island Now that while there was substantial support for the measure, it was not enough to pass it on third reading.
“It just didn’t have the votes, despite the fact that it was a very modest bill,” he said.
The latest version of the bill would have made possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to $100.
Early in the session, the speaker of the House and its majority leader introduced a bill that would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. But that bill was apparently dead on arrival as its supporters could not drum up enough support for even a single hearing.