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Hawaii removed the threat of jail as a punishment for low-level marijuana possession on July 9, 2019,  after the governor declined to take action on a decriminalization bill by the veto deadline.

However, Democratic Gov. David Ige did veto two other pieces of cannabis legislation: one that would have allowed for inter-island transportation of medical marijuana, and another that would have established an industrial hemp licensing program.

At a press conference announcing his veto actions, the governor said he worried that some provisions of the hemp bill “might not be consistent with federal rules and regulations” but that he does “see a lot of opportunity in the hemp industry.”

The decriminalization bill, which removes incarceration as a punishment for possession of 3 grams or less of marijuana and will instead impose a $130 fine, was expected to be enacted without Ige's signature after it didn't appear on his June 2019 “intent to veto” list. It will take effect on Jan. 11, 2020.

At an earlier press conference about the deadline to announce possible vetoes, Ige said it was “a very tough call” and that he went “go back and forth” on the issue before deciding that he wouldn't block it from becoming law.

Advocates said that the governor, who has historically resisted cannabis reform, deserved credit for letting the legislation become law. That said, groups such as the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH) expressed disappointment with the small possession limits covered under the bill.

Hawaii is the 26th state to approve cannabis decriminalization after North Dakota's governor signed a bill in May 2019 that makes possession of up to a half-ounce, or 14 grams, of marijuana punishable by a fine and no jail time.

A bill to decriminalize cannabis possession in New Mexico, which was signed by the governor, went into effect at the beginning of July 2019.

The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii made an eleventh-hour push to get Ige to change his mind about the inter-island transportation legislation, urging followers to contact his office in an email blast on July 8, 2019.

Ige said that because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level — and “airspace and certain areas of water fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government” — that enacting the bill would lead travelers to “erroneously believe they are immune from federal prosecution.”

Separately, the governor signed legislation in early July 2019 that will create a process for sale or transfer of medical cannabis dispensary licenses and extend operating hours, among other regulatory reforms.

Ige also announced on July 9 that he vetoed a bill aimed at reining in police use of asset forfeiture, saying “we have safeguards in place to avoid the abuse that is cited often.”


Featured Image: Hawaii becomes the 26th state to decriminalize marijuana possession but in small amounts. (Photo by Braden Jarvis on Unsplash)

This article was republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here

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