Smoke Signal? Hawaii Senate Panel Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Honolulu Police Department officers testifying against decriminalization of marijuana, state Capitol, Feb. 13, 2014.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Cheech and Chong are paying attention to the Hawaii Legislature?

Posted on the pot-toking comedy duo's official website this week was an alert that two Hawaii state Senate committees were preparing to hear a pair of bills that could "bring needed sensibility to Hawaii's marijuana laws."

Cheech and Chong (or whoever maintains the website) offered tips and talking points to their followers for submitting testimony.

It's not completely out of the ordinary for Cheech and Chong to be tracking pro-marijuana bills here. Chong has longtime island ties.

But the comedians' interest underscores both the potential financial benefits for Hawaii, if it ultimately follows the lead of Washington and Colorado and legalizes the recreational use of marijuana, and the fears that it could prove destructive to the state and its citizens.

Ultimately, Hawaii Senate panels were of two minds on Thursday, killing a bill to legalize marijuana — "We felt Hawaii was not ready for legalization at this time," said Sen. Will Espero — and pushing forward legislation that calls for a fine of just $100 for possession of an ounce of pakalolo.

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