FACT CHECK — Officials: Hawaii Courts Not Clogged With Pot Cases

Flickr: Bob Doran

Editor's Note: More research into the assertions surrounding marijuana arrests and their impact on the court system turned up more of the same — legalization supporters say decriminalization would save taxpayers millions of dollars, opponents say that's not the case. We've graded this Fact Check as unverifiable and updated the piece with the latest information.

Meanwhile, the House killed the measure, saying the votes just weren't there to get it passed. But it supporters are vowing to bring the issue up again next year.

A bill calling for decriminalization of possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is pending this week before the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 472 calls for a civil violation with a fine of up to $100.

If approved, Hawaii would take a major step toward electoral actions in Colorado and Washington state last year that saw decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use, though possession remains a federal crime.

Supporters of the bill, including the ACLU of Hawaii, say passage of SB 472 would free up the state's criminal justice system by reducing "unreasonable arrests" for marijuana possession.

But law enforcement agencies, including the Office of the Attorney General, says there is "no significant backlog of cases in the courts." It strongly opposes SB 472.

Who's correct? Civil Beat is in the process of fact-checking the claims made by each side in recent testimony before the Legislature.

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