Hawai’i does not need the decriminalization of marijuana!
To be clear, decriminalization of marijuana is not the same as marijuana legalization. Decriminalization means that a state repealed or amended its laws to make certain acts criminal, but no longer subject to prosecution. In the marijuana context, this means individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana for personal consumption won’t be prosecuted and won’t subsequently receive a criminal record or a jail sentence. Hawaii legislators are trying to do just that.
For every person who advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana for various reasons, there are many reason to oppose it:
A major argument against the decriminalization of marijuana is that this will increase use of marijuana among Hawaii’s youth, even if the laws are only applicable to adults. If marijuana possesion is no longer a punishable offense it will be more readily available, as users of marijuana will no longer be deterred by fear of punishment. With this increased availability comes increased opportunity for Hawaii’s community members to try or continue to use marijuana and at an increased rate. Also, due to the perceived public acceptance of marijuana, more teens and adolescents will be willing to try the drug without second thoughts of repercussion.
In addition, increased use and availability will lead to an increase in crime. With marijuana possession no longer illegal, more people will feel safe to begin to produce and sell marijuana with no fear of real punishment. This increase in drug trafficking and sales may very well lead to an increase in gang violence as well as black market introduction and sales. It is also believed that with increased marijuana use and availability, more users will be introduced to other forms of crime through drug dealers or other users.
Marijuana use is bad for various other reasons: