Hawai‘i House Passes Bill to Decriminalize Limited Cannabis Possession

March 7, 2019, 2:02 PM HST (Updated March 7, 2019, 2:04 PM)
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The Hawai‘i House of Representatives passed HB1383 HD2 on Thursday, March 7, 2019, which decriminalizes the possession of three or less grams of cannabis and instead establishes a fine of $200.

“This law keeps drug dealers behind bars where they belong, but also keeps regular people who just had a joint out of jail to avoid creating more hardened criminals which makes crime worse,” said Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the House Judiciary Committee and introducer of the measure. “It removes the unnecessary permanent mark from their record so they can go back to school, get a better job, and take care of their family. If we want to actually reduce crime and reduce substance abuse, then our taxpayer dollars are more effectively spent on treatment rather than jailing people at a cost of $146 per person per day.”

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Under Hawaiʻi’s current law, possession of marijuana is considered promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree and is a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in prison and/or a fine of $1000 and any offense for which prison time is authorized is considered a crime. HB1383 HD2 amends this so that possession of three grams or less is a marijuana infraction with a fine of $200. Under the bill, possession of more than three grams is still considered promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree and is a petty misdemeanor.

HB1383 HD2 also provides for the dismissal of criminal charges and expungement of criminal records pertaining solely to the possession of three grams or less of cannabis. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Click here for a list of all the bills passed by the House of Representative so far this session.

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