Hawaii House Passes Bill to Clear Some Criminal Records, Including Cannabis Possession

Including Cannabis Possession

The Hawaii House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow people to expunge some of their criminal records, including low-level cannabis possession offenses. The bill, HB 1663, aims to help people with past convictions to access employment, housing, and other opportunities.

What the Bill Does

The bill would expand the existing expungement process under section 831-3.2, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), which currently allows expungement of arrest records where there has been no conviction, to allow expungement of conviction records for certain offenses and circumstances. The bill would also waive the fees for expungement applications and require the Department of the Attorney General to provide assistance to applicants.

According to the bill, the following offenses and sentencing provisions are eligible for expungement:

  • Operating a vehicle after consuming a measurable amount of alcohol; persons under the age of twenty-one;
  • Sentencing for a first-time drug offender;
  • First-time drug offense prior to 2004;
  • Sentencing for first-time property offender;
  • Possession of three grams or less of cannabis.

The bill would also allow the court to grant an expungement order for any offense, except for those involving violence, sexual assault, or firearms, if the person has not been convicted of any other offense for at least five years after completing the sentence for the offense.

Why the Bill Matters

The bill’s supporters argue that the bill would help people with past convictions to overcome the barriers and stigma that they face in society. They say that the bill would promote rehabilitation, reintegration, and justice for people who have paid their dues and deserve a second chance.

Including Cannabis Possession

According to the bill’s preamble, there are over 100,000 people in Hawaii who have a criminal record, and many of them struggle to find employment, housing, education, and other services because of their record. The bill states that expunging criminal records would reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and save taxpayer money.

The bill’s opponents, however, contend that the bill is too broad and lenient, and that it would undermine the criminal justice system and public trust. They say that the bill would erase the consequences and accountability for people who have committed crimes, and that it would create confusion and inconsistency in the records and databases.

The Department of the Attorney General, in particular, has expressed its opposition to the bill, saying that it would create a “record clearance” process that is different from the existing expungement process, and that it would conflict with other laws and rules. The department also raised concerns about the workload and resources required to implement the bill.

What’s Next for the Bill

The bill passed the House on March 9, 2024, by a vote of 40 to 11. It has been transmitted to the Senate, where it will be referred to the appropriate committees for further consideration.

The bill’s progress can be tracked on the Hawaii Legislature’s website. The bill’s full text, status, history, and testimony can also be found there.

By Benjamin Parker

Benjamin Parker is a seasoned senior content writer specializing in the CBD niche at CBD Strains Only. With a wealth of experience and expertise in the field, Benjamin is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content on all things CBD-related. His in-depth knowledge and passion for the benefits of CBD shine through in his articles, offering readers a deeper understanding of the industry and its potential for promoting health and wellness.

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