Hawaii Lawmakers Switch Up MJ Expungement Bill to Test in Just One County

Hawaii Lawmakers Switch Up MJ Expungement Bill to Test in Just One CountyYo, peep this – Hawaii lawmakers are out here trying to push through this updated plan to legalize cannabis, and word on the street is that the Aloha State might be one of the next ones to get down with adult-use reform. But hold up, ’cause there’s already some major changes going down. The Senate is looking to scale back the social equity moves that were originally planned.

The OG measure, that got stamped by the House last week, was supposed to wipe out tens of thousands of arrest and conviction records for minor weed charges in Hawaii. But now, a Hawaiian Senate crew done switched it up to a trial run in just one county. This move was first put out there by Marijuana Moment.

This new vibe is straight from Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez. Senator Karl Rhodes, who runs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Instead of wiping everyone’s slate clean statewide like the original bill wanted, I’m thinking we should roll with the AG’s plan for a pilot program to clear out weed possession arrests.”

Now, this program would only cover cases where there wasn’t actually a guilty verdict – basically, if you got popped for having some herb but didn’t get convicted.

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Back in November ’23, Lopez came out with her own legalization blueprint, which this latest Senate bill mostly takes its cues from. And even though a lot of big shots in the government are feeling this new bill and what it’s all about, some activists are raising eyebrows over the new rules for law enforcement.

One part of this bill is setting a THC blood limit for drivers – even though THC can stay in your system for days or even weeks after you smoke up. They’re also planning to set up a whole squad at the Department of Law Enforcement just for weed and hire eight more people on top of that to crack down on drug issues at the AG’s office.

Rhodes thinks the pilot program could go down in Hawaii County, which is the state’s second most crowded area where about 14% of all Hawaiians live.

David Tarnas, who put forward the original bill, said it would’ve made around 30,000 people eligible to have their records wiped clean. But if these AG-approved changes stick around, HB 1595 ain’t gonna have nearly as big an impact as it was meant to.

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Lopez’s team dropped a statement saying they’re not feeling the current bill at all without these changes. They’re all about starting up this pilot project so certain folks who got busted just for having weed can get their records cleared out by the state – no need for them to ask.

They’re saying keeping it in one county will make sure things don’t get too crazy workload-wise and they’re thinking it’ll take about 14 months to run its course.

Hawaii already started making moves to decriminalize cannabis, which came with a process to seal up court records. But some folks say it’s not easy to navigate and isn’t open for everyone.

Even though the OG bill would’ve made everything fully automatic and had the AG’s office clear out all weed-related records without anyone asking, there are still some folks celebrating this step forward even if it’s not as broad as they hoped.

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Some people are thinking Governor Green should use his pardon powers to help out those with weed charges. The Last Prisoner Project is all about it.

Others, like Karen O’Keefe from the Marijuana Policy Project, aren’t so thrilled with these changes. She thinks keeping folks locked down because of weed is way too harsh. She told Marijuana Moment that Hawaii should be getting rid of this stigma that ruins so many lives.

All these twists and turns are happening right after the Senate passed another bill that would let adults over 21 have some bud on them and set up a system for selling recreational cannabis. That bill is off to the House now, where things might not be as chill since they’re not typically into adult-use cannabis laws.

1 thought on “Hawaii Lawmakers Switch Up MJ Expungement Bill to Test in Just One County”

  1. Yo, this move be smart. Gotta test it out first before goin big. Make sure it work right for folks and clean up records. Hawaii doin it right!


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