Update 6/12/2013: Hawaii's proposed decriminalization bill that would have set a $1,000 fine for possession of up to an ounce has been changed, dropping the fine back to it's original proposed limit of $100. It comes with a catch, though, the decriminalized amount would also be dropped to a 20 grams - eight short of the ounce originally promised. Money collected from fines would go toward the state general fund.
Also interesting is a House-added section that would make anyone who gives pot to minors liable for any injuries or damages caused by said teenager. It also includes anyone who owns or lives with anyone under 18 who "reasonably could have prohibited or prevented" the minor from using cannabis.
If the House approves the amended bill, it would then have to go before a committee of legislators to work on the differences between the two measures. The bill would then need approval from Governor Neil Abercrombie.
Original post, 3/6/2013: A bill that would decriminalize minor pakalolo possession in Hawaii passed unanimously through the state senate yesterday. Senate Bill 472, which would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a civil fine, with a fine of up to $1,000.
Currently, the penalty for less than an ounce of cannabis in Hawaii is a misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. According to the Honolulu Star Advisor, lawmakers kept the harsh fine to stress that marijuana is still illegal.
They've got to find some way of keeping their judges happy and paid as lawmakers quoted studies showing that decriminalizing could save up to $9 million annually in wasted, backlogged court cases. (FYI, use sale or possession of paraphernalia is a felony with up to $10,000 in fines and five years of your life in jail. Not so Aloha, huh?)
Predictably, police say the new law will confuse and frustrate them. "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," said Jerry Inouye, a Honolulu Police spokesman, to KHON2 in Hawaii.
Seriously. That's what they are afraid of. People giving false names. Here's an idea: maybe the police should focus on what some say is THE WORST CRYSTAL METH PROBLEM IN THE NATION instead.
The other Honolulu police argument against the bill is that it really won't do anything at all. Honolulu only arrested 19 people for pot under an ounce last year. Basically the police don't have much to lean on here and are opposing it simply because they are police and police hate marijuana.
While SB 472 has full senate support and should have an easy round before the Hawaii house, there's really no telling what they will do with regard to marijuana. There was little support last month for House Bill 699, which would have legalized the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.