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Senate Passes Bill That Would Decriminalize Marijuana

Posted March 5, 2013, 01:31 PM HST Updated March 5, 2013, 02:24 PM HST
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Hawai’i Island police dismantled an underground bunker marijuana-growing operation in Puna and arrested two individuals at the Glenwood home after serving a search warrant on Thursday.  Police described the building as a sophisticated operation measuring 40 by 80 feet, and containing more than 500 marijuana plants. Photo courtesy Hawaii Police Department.

Hawai’i Island police dismantled an underground bunker marijuana-growing operation in Puna and arrested two individuals at the Glenwood home after serving a search warrant on Thursday. Police described the building as a sophisticated operation measuring 40 by 80 feet, and containing more than 500 marijuana plants. Photo courtesy Hawaii Police Department.

By Wendy Osher

The Hawai’i State Senate today passed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The amended version of Senate Bill 472 passed third reading, creating a “civil violation” for the possession of an ounce or less for intentional possession. A violation would be subject to a fine of $1,000.

Under current laws, possession under similar circumstances would be classified as a harsher violation of “criminal misdemeanor.”

SB472, SD1 passed with 25 “yes” votes, and two yes votes with reservations from Senators Ruderman and Slom.

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Earlier this year, the Drug Policy Action Group presented findings of an opinion poll they commissioned saying the findings suggest that Hawai’i voters are open to legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana in the state.

In the study, researchers examined the costs of current law enforcement policies, and the projected economic impacts if Hawai’i were to decriminalize or legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

According to findings of the study,  it was suggested that by decriminalizing marijuana, Hawaii could redirect over $9 million annually in law enforcement costs.

The item has since been transmitted to the state House for further consideration.

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