WRONG PLACE, RIGHT TIME: Today’s 3 p.m. State Senate hearing of a bill (SB 1460) that would make “possession of one ounce or less of marijuana... a civil violation for that is subject to a fine of not more than $100” got some press today.
That joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Labor and Health Committees took up a measure that would not only decriminalize possession of less than an ounce but also eliminate a lot of other inappropriate and draconian penalties like requiring substance abuse treatment and eliminating any “intent to distribute” charges for simple possession of pakalolo.
(Update: SB1460 passed JDL/HTH 5-0 and now goes to Ways and Means [WAM])
Also on the agenda at the same meeting was a hearing on the much publicized bill (SB1458) which among other things would establish licensure for “medical marijuana compassion center license for the sale of medical marijuana to qualified patients.”
You can submit late testimony and track the two measures but for many the real action this year is in a bill being heard next week to transfer jurisdiction of medical marijuana from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health (DOH).
Bill SB175 would do what should have been done when the legislature first legalized medical cannabis- something done in all other states that allow the practice- instead of setting up the seeming contradictory placement of a legal use under a department that deals with illegal matters.
That has resulted in rules that provide lists of patients to be circulated and kept by law enforcement and allows for preemptive, warrantless raids on patients homes without probable cause and even an incident of the release of a list to the press on the Big Island.
The bill would require all new administrative rules under DOH and eliminate the absurd and potentially abusive oversight of the program by those who actually oppose medical marijuana.
This could be the year after an aborted attempt last session under former Governor Linda Lingle.
The bill is on the agenda for a joint hearing of the Senate’s Committee On Public Safety, Government Operations, And Military Affairs and the Committee On Health, next Tuesday, February 8 at 2:45 p.m. You can track the bill here.
Those wishing to testify can email it to PGMTestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov, making sure to include the measure, date and time of the hearing.
Easier still is the automatic handy-dandy, fill-in-the-blank email page the Senate provides at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony/.
And some good news. Though it still has to get through the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 174 has already quietly passed out of the Committee on Health. It would “(r)emoves marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from the schedule I controlled substances list and places them in the schedule III controlled substances list”.
Update: Despite testimony in overwhelming support of the bill (which we detailed on Monday) to select county ethics board members from a list provided by an independent body from Common Cause Hawaii, The League Of Women Voters Of Hawai`i, Americans for Democratic Action/Hawai`i, Rolf Bieber, Larry Geller, Richard Spacer and PNN- and no testimony in outright opposition- HB468 was deferred after last Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee.
However, the Senate Public Safety, Government Operations, and Military Affairs (PGM) Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the companion bill SB214 a week from tomorrow- Saturday 2/12- at 9:00AM. The senate is probably where the action will be on this one since it was introduced by six senators whereas the house version was introduced by only one representative.
If you sent testimony to the house please resend it to the Senate PMG committee at PGMTestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov. If you didn’t, now is your chance. As always include the measure, date and time of the hearing. Or use the email page the Senate provides at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony/.