Panel votes to reduce penalties for marijuana

HONOLULU — A key Hawaii legislative panel has passed a bill that would reduce penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The measure adopted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Friday says possession of 3 grams or less of marijuana would be a petty misdemeanor punishable by a $30 fine. Three grams is equivalent to one-tenth of an ounce.

The bill would purge criminal records of those convicted of possessing 3 grams or less if no other criminal charge is associated with the record.

Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Executive Director Carl Bergquist hopes the bill will be amended to decriminalize larger amounts. He says such a low threshold would still prompt arrests and make the bill ineffective.

The measure now goes to the full Senate.

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