Decriminalization! What would you like to know

In the photo: three grams of cannabis flower, the maximum amount decriminalized. Neighborhood indicated for the scale.

Last year, Hawai’i joined the league of states that enacted laws to decriminalize or legalize recreational marijuana. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), this makes us the 26th state (including the District of Columbia) in the Union to pass such a law. HB1383, as the decriminalization bill was titled, comes into force this Saturday, January 11.

But wait! Before you roll that celebratory joint and take to the streets, here are five things you need to know about decriminalization.

1. You must have 3 grams or less

Yes, decriminalization in Hawaii only applies to possession of 3 grams or less of cannabis. (Don’t worry, medical marijuana licensees, you can still legally own up to 4 ounces, or about 112 grams.) While the original version of HB1383 described the decriminalization of cannabis offenses ranging from possession of 3 grams to 25 pounds, the bill has been scaled back as it progressed through the legislative process last year.

Three grams of cannabis is equivalent to three to six medium-sized joints, says the cannabis website Three grams is also just under an eighth of an ounce of weed (3.5 grams), a measure commonly used by buyers and sellers. It’s time to tell your dealer to start using the metric system.

2. Decriminalization is not legalization (there are always sanctions)

OK, so you’ve switched to the metric system and made sure you don’t have more than 3 grams on you. While you will no longer face criminal charges for being caught with 3 grams or less of cannabis, that doesn’t mean it’s legal. It just means that the penalties will not be as severe as they once were. There will always be a penalty for possession of 3 grams or less of cannabis: a fine of $ 130. And, if you get stuck with more than that, you can still be arrested and face jail time.

“It is important for the public to understand that decriminalizing cannabis in small amounts does not make possession legal. Violators will be cited and fined, ”read a statement from the Maui County District Attorney’s Office. They will be on the lookout for offenders: “The ministry predicts an increase in the number of cases of impaired driving, negligent homicide and negligent injuries due to impaired driving,” the statement added.

Maui Police Department Information Officer John Sang agreed with the advice. “Decriminalizing cannabis does not change our priorities when it comes to drug possession. Possession of cannabis is always a violation of state laws, ”he said. “The Maui Police Department will always enforce all applicable laws regarding drug possession. “

So, what is it for ? Well, for starters, at least you won’t be arrested or thrown in jail. And the removal of criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis could have far-reaching impacts: “Decriminalization of small-volume cannabis may reduce the number of criminal cases filed by the department,” the statement from the office of the Department said. prosecutor.

Additionally, data from the 2018 U.S. Census shows that native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up 10.2 percent of the population, while the 2017 Hawai’i Crime Report indicates that 29.2 percent of people arrested for possession of cannabis are Hawaiian. Decriminalization is a step towards correcting this inequality.

3. Former convicts can see their records deleted

Do you have a record of a past cannabis-related indiscretion? If the conviction involved 3 grams of cannabis or less and did not include any other criminal charges, you can request that the record be erased or expunged.

4. Attitudes of prohibition prevail (at least in Hawai’i, for the moment…)

While decriminalization can be seen as a step towards legalization or more liberal cannabis laws (states with legal recreational cannabis like Alaska, California, Colorado, and Illinois have enacted decriminalization provisions before. full legalization), don’t expect January 11 to come in a cloud of smoke. . Social change takes time, and if the debate around HB1383 has revealed anything, it is that opposition to progressive cannabis law reform still exists.

HB1383 was passed without Governor David Ige’s signature, a sign that he did not approve of the bill, but did not have the will to fight it either. “It was a very difficult call,” Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “I’ve been going back and forth on decriminalizing marijuana.” He opposed bills related to the legalization of cannabis and ran for office on a platform opposed to legalization.

Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu, for his part, filed a testimony in opposition to HB1383 last year, citing the tired “Gateway Drug” argument and asking “Why decriminalize it so people who don’t have any health issues are allowed to ‘get high’? “

Never mind that (legal!) Alcohol is much worse for health and society, and that this ban amounts to a war on expensive drugs, a stronger black market, and a larger prison population of non-violent offenders.

5. Decriminalization is a step; Other cannabis bills will be debated

As mentioned, decriminalization can be seen as a step towards progressive cannabis laws. “Hawai’i needs legalized adult cannabis the same way Illinois just did,” said Rep. Tina Wildberger (D-South Maui), who was one of the introducers of HB1383. “They have incorporated elements of social justice into their law. Their governor, JB Pritzker has just granted more than 11,000 pardons during their first wave of radiation.

She will continue her work on cannabis law reform in the next legislative session in 2020, starting with HB1581, a legalization bill that failed last year. She added that a bill should learn from states that have already legalized the sticker and include provisions for dispensaries, banking and commerce.

“Judicial President Representative Chris Lee has been working on this issue and I bet we’ll see more movement on this issue in the future,” Wildberger said. “It is important for the general public to understand that legalizing cannabis is not about increasing cannabis use,” she added. “Rather, it is simply a matter of removing the criminal component and the stigma of behavior already practiced by many.”

What do you think?

Are you satisfied with the new cannabis decriminalization law affecting possession of 3 grams or less of cannabis?

Vote and leave a comment in our weekly reader survey by following the link below for a chance to appear in print! #coconut

Photo by Mautime



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