As of now, an arrest in Hawaii for possession of drug paraphernalia (papers, bowl, etc.) now carries some of the most stringent penalties in the national, including up to five years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine.
According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, that may soon change. Yesterday, Hawaii House and Senate negotiators crafted a bill that, if passed, would decriminalize possession of drug-related items, reducing fines to no more than $500.
The State Representative responsible for the bill’s introduction, Joy San Buenaventura, said the bill was created in part to reduce overcrowding in the state’s jails. According to the Star Advertiser, San Buenaventura explained that “When law enforcement authorities add a felony drug paraphernalia charge to other charges filed against people who are arrested, that increases the amount of cash those people person must produce to post bail and get out of jail. That means paraphernalia charges contribute to jail crowding.”
The bill would cover paraphernalia related to the use of more than just marijuana: its current language would include methamphetamine pipes, various needles and even bags coated with drug residue.
The measure, now drafted, will be put to the full state House and Senate for votes. If the bill passes, it will go to Hawaii Governor David Ige for his consideration.