HONOLULU — Hawaii House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a bill that would decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia.
Lawmakers met Monday morning and agreed on the bill, which would drastically reduce the penalties for being caught with paraphernalia, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Currently, people caught with items such as marijuana rolling papers or a pipe could be punished to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Under the proposed bill, $500 is the most anybody would be fined.
State Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, who introduced the bill, said she expects the decriminalization to reduce overcrowding in the state’s jails.
“If you’re caught at a party with a joint and rolling papers, odds are you’re not going to have the thousands of dollars required in cash on hand to bail yourself out,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s one step toward a more rational drug policy program, but I’m taking it as it is.”
The measure now advances to the full House and Senate for floor votes. If approved, it will then go to Gov. David Ige for his consideration.
The measure has been strongly opposed by Ige’s state Attorney General Douglas Chin as well as the Honolulu and Hawaii island prosecutors. Chin argued in his testimony that changing the law probably won’t do much to reduce the prison population.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser