Gaza Post – Agencies
Hawaii decriminalized cannabis on Tuesday, July 9, bringing the tally of states that have decriminalized or legalized the substance up to 26. Vox reports that under the new law, which will go into effect on January 11, 2020, possessing three grams or less of weed in Hawaii won’t land you in jail, but will warrant a $130 fine.
According to the Cannabis Business Times, the new law will also expunge records resulting from the possession of three grams or less of weed and set up a state task force that would make cannabis policy reform recommendations.
Since Hawaii Gov. David Ige neither signed nor voted the bill, it effectively turned into law, according to CNN. Although Hawaii has permitted medical marijuana use since 2000, possessing small amounts of weed for recreational use can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 30 days of jail time under the current law.
So far, 15 U.S. states, including Hawaii, have decriminalized weed, while 11 states and Washington, DC have legalized it. When weed is decriminalized, possessing small amounts of it will subject you to a fine, but not jail or prison. You could also receive harsher sentences if you possess larger amounts of weed, sell it, or rack up multiple marijuana-related offenses, Vox reports. When weed is legalized, however, possessing, and in many cases, selling it, isn’t punishable at all.
Proponents of legalization note that prohibition has done little to lower cannabis use and has led to a disproportionate number of arrests of Black and Brown people. They also argue that prohibition has seeded a black market for cartels and other criminal entities. Opponents of legalization, though, worry that it will create an industry that resembles Big Tobacco or Big Alcohol, where irresponsible marketing tactics will lead to widespread marijuana use.