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HPD Major Jerry Inouye speaks to the media.

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HPD opposes marijuana bill passed in State Senate

The Hawaii State Senate voted today on a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. The bill would make it a civil violation for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. Anyone caught is subject to a fine of $1,000. The proposal now goes to the House for consideration.

The Honolulu Police Department is against the legalization, decriminalization and medicinal use of marijuana. Major Jerry Inouye of the Narcotics/Vice Division gave the following reasons, "The Honolulu Police Department is opposed to SB 472, regarding the decriminalization of marijuana. As written, it creates a conflict between sections 329 and 712 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, because it would be a violation under section 329 and a petty misdemeanor under section 712."

Inouye adds, "Decriminalization is also problematic because it creates difficulty in enforcement. If an officer is attempting to issue a citation to someone for possession of marijuana and that person has no ID, he or she could give a false name, or perhaps someone else's name. This would create problems, as the citation would be issued to the wrong person. We think the best solution is to leave it as a petty misdemeanor. There will be no significant cost savings in making it a violation because we currently do not expend a tremendous amount of resources on petty misdemeanor marijuana possession."

In 2012, HPD made more than 30,000 arrests. Of these, roughly 600 or two percent were for petty misdemeanor marijuana possession. That is compared to the 564 arrests for possession of a small amount of crystal meth.