East Hawaii News

Legal Marijuana Dead, Decriminalized Pot Still Alive

February 13, 2014, 6:54 PM HST
* Updated February 19, 12:43 PM
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For the second year in a row, state lawmakers have snuffed out a bill that would have legalized marijuana in Hawaii.

Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee which today shelved Senate Bill 2733, said the Legislature is taking a wait-and-see approach to legalization.

“We felt Hawaii was not ready for legalization at this time,” he said. “With the passage of legalization bills in Colorado and Washington, however, these states will be test sites to see how legalization impacts the states and their residents.”

A bill to legalize pot introduced last year by House Speaker Joe Souki died without a hearing.

Another marijuana measure, Senate Bill 2358, which would decriminalize the substance, was passed unanimously and will now go to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.

Under that bill, a first-time offense would bring a $100 fine; a second offense, $250; and three or more would result in a $500 fine. No prison time would be involved.

A similar bill taken up during the 2013 session was approved by the Senate and survived two floor votes in the House before being deferred by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Espero’s committee today also advanced Senate Bill 2215, which would provide medical amnesty for those who call 911 when someone is overdosing on drugs.

“Many Hawaii residents have died because people are afraid to call for help when they are with someone overdosing,” he said. “This measure is a good Samaritan bill that gives limited immunity to those who seek medical assistance.”

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