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It’s official! The bill recently passed by Hawaiian legislators decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis, HB 1383, will go into effect as law on January 11th, 2020. Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 was the deadline for the Hawaiian governor to take steps to either sign or veto the bill that would decriminalize cannabis. As he did neither, the law goes into effect by default.
So, what will decriminalization in Hawaii look like? People who get caught with 3 grams of cannabis or less will not face criminal charges. Instead, they will receive a citation that could result in a fine of $130. While some people are disappointed that decriminalization and not legalization is what went through, progress is still positive, especially when there was little sign of legalization on the immediate horizon in Hawaii.
Although the decriminalization measure will not address the social inequities or unregulated markets created by cannabis prohibition, it will at least reduce the number of people who face arrest and criminal records for the harmless use of a plant.
Decriminalization, of course, is often touted as an alternative to legalization. However, decriminalization only takes away criminal penalties, it does not allow for legal production for sale of cannabis. In other words, decriminalization will not address unregulated sales of cannabis or prevent people who grow it or sell it from facing incarceration.
Even small steps forward are signs of progress, so everyone at Ladybud wants to congratulate Hawaii on decriminalizing less than 3 grams of cannabis. Hopefully, this will not be the last step, but merely one of many on a pathway of positive change for Hawaii’s cannabis law.
For previous Ladybud articles about decriminalization, click here.