On Tuesday, the Hawaii Senate unanimously voted to pass a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession in the state. Under the bill, possession of under an ounce of marijuana would be punished by a fine, rather than arrest and potential jail time.
Those caught with up to an ounce of marijuana could be fined up to $1,000.
Senator Clayton Hee explained, “What it does is save the court backlog system, according to a study done, of $9 million.”
Senator J. Kalani English added, “So why not send a measure to the House with the highest, hoping the house would now have something to work with.”
The Honolulu Police Department is against the measure. They want marijuana possession to remain a petty misdemeanor because turning it into a civil citation could make it too complicated for officers.
Major Jerry Inouye explained, “For example, an officer trying to issue a citation for marijuana, if the person doesn’t have identification, it becomes difficult to enforce because a person could give a false name.”
The bill will now go to the House. Earlier this session, a similar marijuana decriminalization bill already died in the Hawaii House.