The state of Hawaii officially joined 26 other states in the U.S. by decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis.
House Bill 1383 became law on July 9, following a deadline for the Gov. David Ige to veto or sign the bill. Although the bill was sent to Ige’s desk in May, he actually didn’t veto or sign the bill. Instead, he allowed the bill to become law simply because a deadline was met.
According to Vox, HB-1383 removes jail time as a penalty for possession of three grams of cannabis or less, but leaves the $130 dollar fine as a potential punishment. The law will officially take effect on January 11, 2020. “Unfortunately, three grams would be the smallest amount of any state that has decriminalized (or legalized) simple possession of marijuana,” the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), an advocacy group, stated. “Still, removing criminal penalties and possible jail time for possession of a small amount of cannabis is an improvement.”
“Voters in 10 states—including every state on the West Coast—have chosen to treat marijuana more like alcohol, by making it legal for adults 21 and older, taxing, and regulating it,” MPP added. “In an 11th state, Vermont, adult-use possession and cultivation is legal, but there are no regulated sales. These laws are working well, generating tax revenue, and creating good jobs without creating problems.”
While this is not a major leap forward for cannabis enthusiasts, who would like to see full legalization, it is a big step away from jail time for even small amounts, and something that everyone, even the more conservative members of the legislature, can agree with. Formerly, even a small amount of cannabis was punishable by jail time or up to $1,000 in fines.
This is also another step in a recent trend of more liberal cannabis policy adjustments in Hawaii. Travelers are now allowed to purchase medical cannabis, which is helpful due to the fact that many travel to Hawaii for treatment.