Hawaii Legislature Passes Marijuana Expungement Bill, While Rejecting Measure to Decriminalize One Ounce

Hawaii’s full legislature has given approval to legislation to facilitate marijuana expungements, sending it to Governor Josh Green.

The House has given final approval to House Bill 1595, with the vote being 41 to 9. The measure has already been passed by the Senate, 24 to 1. Governor Green is expected to sign the measure into law.

“Recognizing the limited resources of the Hawaiʻi criminal justice data center, the purpose of this Act is to establish a pilot project, to be administered by the department of the attorney general, to expunge certain arrest records and other records pertaining to prior arrests made under section 712-1249, Hawaii Revised Statutes, concerning the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana”, states the bill’s text.

For purposes of this pilot project, “the Hawaiʻi criminal justice data center will use existing resources, without any additional appropriations, and will report to the legislature on progress and lessons learned, which can better inform future legislation concerning state-initiated expungement.”

State officials estimate that over 30,000 individuals will be eligible to have their convictions expunged if the measure is enacted into law.

Despite such strong support for the expungement bill, the Senate voted 15 to 9 to reject Senate Bill 2487 to expand the state’s marijuana decriminalization law to include possession of up to one ounce, rather than the current law of just three grams.

Also this session, legislation to fully legalize marijuana in Hawaii was killed by the House Finance Committee, despite being passed through the Senate (19 to 6) and three House committees.

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