Hawaii Just Decriminalized Cannabis - International Highlife

Hawaii Just Decriminalized Cannabis

Yesterday, Hawaii decriminalized cannabis, making it the 26th state to take this step towards cannabis reform. The new law removes the possibility of jail time for possessing up to three grams of marijuana, but offenders will still be fined $130. Hawaii’s Democrat-controlled legislature approved the bill and took effect on January 11, 2020, after Democratic Gov. David Ige neither signed nor vetoed it, effectively allowing it to become law on Tuesday.

Decriminalization vs. Legalization

It is important to note that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. While possessing small amounts of cannabis no longer carries jail or prison time under decriminalization, it can still result in fines. Additionally, possession of larger amounts, repeat offenses, and sales or trafficking can lead to harsher sentences. On the other hand, under legalization, all penalties for cannabis possession are completely removed, and sales are typically allowed.

The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, acknowledged that although three grams is the smallest decriminalized possession amount among states, removing criminal penalties and possible jail time for possessing a small amount of cannabis is still an improvement.

Views on Decriminalization

Some opponents of full legalization prefer decriminalization as a stepping stone toward reforming America’s drug and criminal justice policies. They view “tough on crime” policies as overly punitive and costly but are cautious about complete legalization, fearing it could lead to easier access to marijuana in the US and irresponsible marketing by big corporations.

However, advocates of full legalization express concerns about decriminalization’s limitations, particularly the ban on selling weed. Without a legal source, users may turn to criminal organizations, providing them with a source of revenue that can fuel violent operations worldwide. Additionally, decriminalization fines can still be problematic, as they often disproportionately impact certain racial groups.

While Hawaii’s move to decriminalize cannabis is a positive step, continuing the conversation about comprehensive drug policy reform is essential. Understanding the distinctions between decriminalization and legalization allows for informed discussions on the best approach to cannabis regulation and its potential implications for society.


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