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Two Sides to Every Story

Last week, in response to pending legislation that would legalize a small amount of marijuana for personal use, members of the law enforcement community gathered at the Capitol to voice their objections. The pending bill, SB 472, would allow up to 20 grams (2/3 ounce) of marijuana for Hawaiian citizens without criminal penalty. There would still be a fine for anyone caught with weed and a penalty up to $100. The bill passed the Hawaiian State Senate and is now awaiting a House vote.

The rally was organized by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). According the Pacific Business News, the Hawaiian chapter of SAM joins groups already formed in Colorado, Washington D.C., and Florida.

The objectives of SAM are to weigh in on policymaking to “engage the community and foster discussion.” SAM is co-chaired by former US Congressman Patrick Kennedy (Dem, Rhode Island).

“Hawaii will become less family-friendly if marijuana is legalized, tourism will suffer and so will Hawaii residents’ quality of life,” Kennedy said in a statement.

Also involved in the rally was the Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii, whose mission is “to reduce and prevent drug abuse in Hawaii through awareness, education, and action.” The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that about 200 people attended, with many wearing police uniforms.

The bill isn’t all good news for marijuana users. There is also a provision that puts stricter penalties on those caught driving while high on the drug. Penalties for possession by minors or selling marijuana wouldn’t change. A reduction to a misdemeanor would mean that those caught under the new limits wouldn’t have an arrest or criminal conviction on their records, something that can adversely affect employment, student loans or credit.

The rally represents the other side to the pro-legalization voices and rallies, a way to show that there are two sides to the legalization story and citizens in both camps willing to come out to support their side of the issue.

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