By Phillip Smith
The Hawaii Senate Tuesday voted unanimously to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure now goes to the House.
The bill, Senate Bill 472, would make possession of up to an ounce a civil infraction with a maximum $1,000 fine. The bill originally called for a maximum $100 fine, but was amended by lawmakers who said they wanted to emphasize that marijuana would still be illegal.
Bill supporters said it was aimed at reducing congestion in the state's criminal justice system.
Earlier this session, the House defeated a marijuana legalization bill. Whether it will embrace decriminalization remains to be seen.
The bill is being supported by a newly formed group, Fresh Approach Hawaii, which aims at lobbying the legislature on marijuana reform issues. The group said it will work with House members to reduce the fine and add other desirable provisions.