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Hawaii Senate votes to decriminalize marijuana

March 6, 2013
By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - The state Senate voted unanimously to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

The state Senate approved the bill Tuesday. The proposal now goes to the House for consideration.

The bill creates a civil violation for the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana. Lawmakers added a $1,000 fine to emphasize that the use of marijuana is still illegal despite the shift from the criminal to the civil realm.

Sen. Clayton Hee said the bill is designed to reduce the backlog in the criminal justice system.

Law-enforcement officials oppose the bill and say that decriminalization would make it harder to enforce the law against the drug.

A related bill to legalize the drug died in the House earlier this session.



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