States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: February 27, 2024
The Hawai’i Senate has twice passed legalization bills by lopsided margins, but the bills have never even gotten a vote in the House.
2024 could be the year that finally changes.
During the fall of 2023, the office of Hawai’i Attorney General Anne Lopez crafted a 300+ page bill that has been introduced as a starting point for legalization — SB 3335/HB 2600. While we’re pleased the bill includes home cultivation, MPP and our allies in the Hawai’i Alliance for Cannabis Reform are concerned the bill is too weak on social equity and reparative justice, while including alarming re-criminalization and investment in law enforcement.
We’re also advocating for companion legislation to provide for automatic expungement of cannabis records and to expand Hawaii’s decriminalization law — which only applies to three grams. SB 3335/HB 2600 wouldn’t legalize possession until January 1, 2026, so even if it passes, the decrim expansion bills are crucial interim steps.
In 2000, Hawai’i became the first state in the nation to pass a medical cannabis law through the legislature — rather than the citizen initiative process. Since then, the program has been revised and expanded, including to expand qualifying conditions, to provide protections for out-of-state patients, and to allow dispensaries.
While the law has inched forward over the years, it still falls far short in some areas. Unlike most other medical cannabis states, Hawaii’s medical cannabis patients can still be fired for testing positive for cannabis.
Hawaii’s Limited “Decriminalization” Law
In 2019, then-governor David Ige signed into law an extremely limited “decriminalization” law.
The law reduced the penalty for three grams of cannabis to a $130 civil fine, with no jail time. While the bill was a step forward, it remains far behind the times. Most Hawaiians want cannabis to be legal for adults. And the law covers the smallest amount of cannabis in the country. Most other “decriminalization” laws apply to at least an ounce of cannabis, or 28.3 grams.
HB 1595 would increase the amount of cannabis covered by decriminalization to an ounce, while reducing the penalty to a $25 fine. It would also remove the penalty for possession of paraphernalia for cannabis use and possession — which is currently up to $500. SB 2487 would also expand decriminalization to an ounce, but it has a blank where a revised fine could be added in.
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