HONOLULU, HAWAII — Yesterday, the Hawaii Senate passed by overwhelming, veto-proof margins three measures that will greatly improve marijuana laws in the state:
· SB 2213 passed 20-4, with one excused. This bill would allow counties to license medical marijuana dispensaries.
· SB 2141 passed 24-1. This bill would increase the ratio of plants, ounces and caregivers allowed for each medical marijuana patient.
· SB 2450 passed 22-3. This bill would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $300 for a first offense and $500 for a subsequent offense.
The bills now go to the state House.
“These votes show that Hawaii’s Senate supports sensible marijuana policies that will serve the best interests of state citizens,” said Eric M. McDaniel, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. “Hawaii’s most vulnerable citizens deserve safe and reliable access to their medicine, and no Hawaiian deserves to go to jail simply for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. If House members agree, I would strongly encourage them to pass these measures as well.”
The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, headed by Pamela Lichty and Jeanne Ohta, and the Peaceful Sky Alliance, headed by Matt Rifkin, played crucial roles in getting these measures through the Senate.
With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
By Dev Meyers