East Hawaii News

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Goes Metric in House

March 11, 2013, 5:41 PM HST
* Updated March 12, 9:10 AM
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A committee of the state House of Representatives will take up the Senate’s marijuana decriminalization bill on Thursday, but the version to be considered has a variety of changes.

And to follow the action may require a calculator as well as a primer on the metric system.

When it was passed over to the House on March 5, Senate Bill 472, Senate Draft 1 would change possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from a petty misdemeanor to a civil violation.

The House version to be considered, which was posted today on the Legislature’s website, would still consider simple possession a civil violation, but it would reduce the maximum amount to 20 grams or less.

An ounce is equivalent to about 28.3 grams, so the House threshold would be just under three-fourths of an ounce.


It would also reset the maximum fine for the civil violation to $100.


The Senate had originally proposed a $100 fine, but in its final draft changed that to $1,000, apparently to make the bill more palatable to the House.

The proposed House draft would make other changes to amounts of marijuana involved in several state laws.

Some involve the charge of first-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, which in Hawaii is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.


One of the proposed House changes would reduce the minimum amount of pot possessed for that offense from one pound to 426 grams, or slightly more than 15 ounces. Another involves sales of marijuana, which would go from an ounce or more to more than 20 grams.

Yet another change involved increasing the amount of marijuana that would trigger a charge of second-degree promotion from more than an ounce to more than 200 grams, which is just over seven ounces.

Second-degree promotion of a detrimental drug is a misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Yet another proposed amendment to the bill would make changes to the state’s tort law which deals with civil lawsuits.

The House version would make anyone over the age of 18 who sells or provides marijuana to someone under 18 years old “liable for all injuries or damages caused by the intoxicated person under 18 years of age.”

That clause would not apply to anyone designated under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law as primary caregiver to a medical marijuana patient under the age of 18.

If the House eventually approves a version of the bill that is different than the Senate’s, the two bodies would attempt to iron out the differences in a conference committee later in the session.

The judiciary committee is scheduled to take up the matter at 2 p.m.

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