Stoner Symphony

Hawaii Lawmakers Shoot Down Second Cannabis Reform Bill This Month

Hawaii lawmakers have shot down another attempt at cannabis reform, just weeks after a landmark legalization bill was killed in the state’s House of Representatives.

On Monday, a bill that aimed to expand the state’s cannabis decriminalization initiative was rejected by 16 votes to nine, with senators citing concerns that it could lead to a boom in the black market.

The bill would have reduced the penalty for anyone caught with a small amount of cannabis. The threshold would have been increased from three grams to an ounce of cannabis, and the fine would have been dropped from $130 to $25.

Democratic Senator Sharon Moriwaki said: “Decreasing penalties for illegal marijuana sends a message to our keiki and community that this drug is harmless. It is not.”

While this is the second major legislative blow for cannabis reform this month, there were some reasons to be hopeful this week.

A watered-down expungements bill, which would see the launch of a single-county pilot-programme was approved by the House last week.

This bill, dubbed HB 1595, would have originally seen the state automatically expunge thousands of arrest and conviction records for those caught with small amounts of cannabis.

Following a Senate Judiciary Committee last month, the bill was significantly reduced in scope, and the pilot will now only apply to one state and to non-conviction arrest records.

Frank Stiefel, Senior Policy Associate at the Last Prisoner Project, said: “HB 1595 has been amended to reflect the preferred approach of the Department of the Attorney General. The bill now outlines the creation of a pilot for the implementation of a state-initiated expungement process for non-conviction records of cannabis possession.

“Our hope is that HB 1595 will be a blueprint for how Hawai’i can begin to provide retroactive relief to the thousands of individuals who continue to suffer the consequences of having a criminal record for cannabis possession, an offense that has been decriminalized since 2019.”

A third bill, SB 2706, was also signed off by senators on Monday, set to create a task force with a remit to create legislation for a new expungement programme.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top