Hawaii's New Lax Paraphernalia Laws

Hawaii recently reduced the penalties for drug paraphernalia possession in some very big ways. The state used to have some of the most strict punishments for paraphernalia possession in the country. As the law is written, the act is still obviously illegal in its various forms; for reference:

“…it is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter” – Hawaii House Bill 1501

However, what used to be a Class C felony, a potential $10k fine and 5 years in jail is now just a $500 fine. That’s it. That amounts to a 95% reduction of the fine as well as a 100% reduction in potential jail time.

This is not only a win for the average citizen, but also for the state. For the people, the obvious benefit is not having the threat of a class C felony looming overhead for having a small pipe or rolling papers. And if you can imagine, the typical smoker using either of these devices most likely doesn’t have money for bail or the hefty fine that could follow. For the state, the main jail on Oahu has something like a 40% pre-trial detainee rate meaning space is being taken up by non-violent offenders just waiting for their court date when it could be freed up for violent offenders, or just freed up entirely so that money isn’t spent at all.

This is a huge step forward considering simple marijuana possession in the state is a misdemeanor but having a pipe was a felony. It’s nice to see when punishment more evenly matches the crime.