Hawaii Becomes 26th US State To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory
Mid-2019, Hawaii became the 26th state to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. After the bill became law, Hawaii Governor David Ige cautioned that decriminalizing the herb doesn’t mean the state is prepared to legalize recreational use of cannabis.

Under the new law, people caught with marijuana will no longer face a misdemeanor charge that had been punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Now, people caught carrying 3 grams or less of marijuana can still be slapped with a citation carrying a $130 fine, but no jail time.

Hawaii’s Democrat-controlled legislature approved the bill and sent it to Gov. Ige’s desk in May. The Governor neither signed it or vetoed it. As a result, the bill became law and will go into 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, an advocacy group, shared in a statement. “Still, removing criminal penalties and possible jail time for possession of a small amount of cannabis is an improvement.”

Before the bill was passed, Ige reportedly went “back and forth on decriminalization.” The governor said one thing he disliked about the bill is that it does not include a provision to help young people who want to get into substance abuse programs. Ige added that the new law does not mean Hawaii, which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, is on the verge of legalizing recreational cannabis.

“We continue to learn from other states about the problems they see with recreational marijuana, and most of the governors that I talk to that have recreational laws have acknowledged significant problems with those measures,” he said.

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The governor continued:

“Hawaii can benefit from not being at the head of the table, that we would be smart to engage and recognize what’s happening in other states, acknowledge the challenges and problems that it has raised and allow us to look at how we would implement it here in a much better controlled fashion.”

For the decriminalization of marijuana, Ige took a hands-off approach. But, around the same time, he vetoed two other marijuana bills passed by legislature. He struck own legislation that would have made it legal for people to transport medical cannabis from island to island, as well as a bill that would have created industrial hemp licensing program.

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h/t Vox, ABC News, Forbes
Image Credit: maridav 123RF

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