The state of Hawaii has decriminalized the possession of cannabis in personal amounts.
The measure also provides for the retroactive expungement of criminal records for individuals with similar past possession offenses.
Hawaii’s legislature approved HB 1383 in May and sent it to Democratic Gov. David Ige to sign off on. However, Ige did not veto or approve the bill, thus effectively allowing it to become law on July 9.
This new law will take effect on January 11, 2020.
HB 1383 takes away jail time for those caught in possession of up to 3 grams of cannabis. Possession of more than this amount of cannabis — as well as the sale of the drug for non-medical use — remains to be considered a criminal activity and those caught will be subject to arrest and prosecution.
With the decriminalization law in place, these minor offenders will get a citation and will be fined $130 instead of having to serve time behind bars.
What’s more, the measure provides for the creation of a special task force that would study the cannabis laws of other states.
The expungement of criminal records related to cannabis possession does not come automatically with the new law. There will have to be a process for it that requires a written application from previous offenders.
According to Troy Smit of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws or NORML, Hawaii’s decriminalization law stands to be the least progressive among the decriminalized states.
Meanwhile, advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project released a statement with regard to the new law, saying that Hawaii’s three-gram cannabis possession threshold is the smallest amount in any decriminalized or legalized state. However, they still pointed out that removing possible jail time and criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of weed is an improvement.
This means that while legalization of adult-use cannabis does not appear to be in Hawaii’s immediate future, a lot of cannabis supporters still see this as a step in the right direction.
Hawaii to allow 2-year renewal of medical cannabis card
In another cannabis-related news in the state, the Department of Health said that qualifying patients can renew their medical marijuana cards for up to two years.
Patients who are currently registered with Hawaii’s medical cannabis program and who are suffering from any of the qualifying medical conditions can submit their two-year renewal applications.
For a patient to qualify for a two-year renewal, they must renew with a physician or with an advanced practive registered nurse who had previously certified them. This doctor of APRN also need to verify that the patient’s medical condition is chronic in nature. Additionally, these certifying medical providers have to agree that a two-year renewal is in the best interest of the patient.
According to Tami Whitney, Medical Cannabis Registry Program representative, the registration fees are non-refundable, whatever the renewal outcome.
She explained that all patients who choose to see a new certifying physician or APRN will be eligible for a one-year registration and can only be eligible for a two-year renewal the following year.
Registered patients can send in their renewal application online as early as 60 days before their cards expire.