Aloha State poised for meaningful marijuana law reform in 2013 legislature

Bills give lawmakers new opportunity to take modest, sensible steps while addressing urgent issues of government fairness and efficiency

Honolulu, Hawaii –  The marijuana law reform movement is about fair, effective use of government power and taxpayer money, and it’s based on two over-arching principles:

1. There is no federal law preventing any state from legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. Every state has a right to determine how best to invest law enforcement resources.
2. When laws outlive their usefulness or even do more harm than good, it’s only sensible to change them.

Around the nation, state after state is considering sensible reforms to marijuana policies, including here at home: Hawaii’s legislature saw 24 bills introduced at the start of the 2013 session relating to marijuana law reform – as far as we know that’s a new record – including several bills to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, similar to reforms passed in 2012 by voters in Washington and Colorado.

At this writing, supporters of reform are urged to ASAP contact their legislators about:
S.B. 472 – to decriminalize (with proper checks and balances) small amounts of marijuana for adult possession. http://freshapproachhawaii.org/2013/04/03/ready-to-decriminalize-marijuana-call-your-legislators-now/
There are also bills moving to improve Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, look for an update on these in the next few days.

Make a Difference Now. The current system is broken. By decriminalizing, or removing criminal penalties, of small amounts of marijuana for adult use — we can begin to reduce the harm on individual lives and make better use of the criminal justice system for more serious crimes.

In Hawaii as in the nation, our marijuana laws persistently and disproportionally affect communities of color, despite similar usage rates for marijuana across all ethnic groups. In addition to the potential life-long stigma of a criminal arrest for a small amount of marijuana, taxpayers are getting hit by the a daily $24,000 price tag.  Every year that goes by, over 1400 people are arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana and $9M is spent in enforcement – an investment the majority of Hawaii’s voters do not think is wise. 69% of Hawaii’s people think the possibility of jail time for marijuana is not appropriate, and 76% of voters think that we should focus enforcement on hard drugs and violent crime – not marijuana.  We simply cannot let this go on.

Hawaii Voters Want Change Now: Buoyed by positive polling, common sense and the national trend away from marijuana prohibition, Hawaii’s marijuana law reform bills are moving carefully through the 2013 legislature. That’s attracting attention from the opposition, including mainland lobbyists who oppose local efforts seeking modest and data-backed reforms that protect youth and free up resources for more serious crimes. Fresh Approach Hawaii is a reflection of the new direction that Hawaii wants. District by district, on every island, 75% of the registered voters said if their state legislator voted to decriminalize marijuana, it would either have no impact (42%) or it would actually make them more likely to vote for their legislator (33%).

Hawaii voters are ready for a fresh approach.
Join the fight! Information, action alerts, and more:  http://freshapproachhawaii.org/2013/04/03/ready-to-decriminalize-marijuana-call-your-legislators-now/

A hui to reform Hawaii’s marijuana laws:
<http://www.freshapproachhawaii.org/>
Facebook: freshapproachhawaii
Twitter: freshapproachhi

A confidential support group for medical marijuana patients, doctors and caregivers:
<http://www.mcchi.org/>
Facebook: mccoalitionhawaii
Twitter: mccoalitionhi