Why Hawaii Should Decriminalize Pot

flickr: ElPablo!

When the Hawai`i State Senate passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana (or cannabis) as they did last Session; when 46% of California voters supported an initiative to legalize marijuana outright; when the last three Presidents admitted to using pot (well, kind of) – things are really changing.

For too long media coverage of cannabis issues has used every conceivable angle to maintain the giggle factor in discussions of the legal status of pot. But guess what? In these times of record state deficits and rapidly changing societal attitudes, we can no longer afford to keep joking about stoners while spending money on counter-productive cannabis policies.

Even the Star Advertiser opined last week (2/9/11) that Hawai`i should “Adopt [a] Lesser Pot Penalty.” They were referring to S.B. 1460 which passed out of its first Senate Committee last week. This bill would downgrade possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from a petty misdemeanor to a civil infraction (like a traffic ticket.) It would impose a maximum fine of $100. The current penalty calls for a fine of $1000 and a possible 30 days in jail (though these are rarely imposed.)

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