Tuesday, the Hawaii Senate unanimously voted to approve a decriminalization bill, sending it to the House of Representatives. S.B. 472, SD 1, would replace Hawaii’s current criminal penalties — including possible jail time — for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine of $1,000. The bill originally called for a fine of $100, but it was amended up in committee.
If you live in Hawaii, please email your representative and ask that she or he work with marijuana policy advocates to bring the fine back down to a more reasonable level and craft a bill that will be agreeable to all parties.
While the Senate was passing S.B. 472, SD 1, the House was also approving legislation to improve Hawaii’s marijuana policies. The House passed H.B. 667 (allowing out-of-state patients and making other improvements) and H.B. 668 (transferring the medical marijuana program from the public safety department to the health department). The two bills now move to the Senate for committee hearings.
Among the many hundreds of public policy concerns that Americans care and act upon, what are the top policy concerns in Congress for which citizens search?
-Drones Used In Domestic Law Enforcement?
None of these supposedly political hot button topics were at the top of a newly created list by Thomas (the online interface the public has with Congressional legislation, run by the Library of Congress).
According to the March 6 print edition of The Hill, the new marijuana legalization legislation introduced by Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) was the second most popular legislation that citizens have searched on in the previous week (second only to the white hot issue of pending gun control legislation).
Gun, pot bills attract the most attention online
By Bob Cusack
It’s a Top 10 list that will never make David Letterman’s show, but it reveals that people are very interested in guns and marijuana. A relatively new feature on the Library of Congress THOMAS site is a Top 10 list of bills searched on Congress’s official website.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) measure to ban assault weapons has the top spot with Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) bill to allow states to legalize medical marijuana in second place.
However, despite the popularity for marijuana law reform in America, will the leaders in the House allow even a subcommittee hearing on the Blumenauer bill (or the near half dozen other marijuana law reform bills—which range from legalization to banking regulation reform to decriminalization to sentencing reform to industrial hemp)?
Aren’t elected officials supposed to listen, deliberate and respond to public advocacy—long festering public advocacy, in the case for cannabis law reform going back almost forty-five years—rather than be silent and oppositional?
Who do they work for? Who pays their salaries? Who is ‘wise’ enough to both elect them to power and also want substantive cannabis law reforms? Why disrespect citizens’ concerns in a democracy?
The phenomena of ‘malevolent neglect’ specific to cannabis law reform is not of course unique to the legislative branch as President Obama has laughed off basically the number one asked question at his so-called electronic town meetings from the beginning of his presidency.
The empirical data (all measurable from public surveys to citizen vote totals to public interest with reform legislation to Internet traffic on reform vs. prohibitionist webpages) is clear and elected officials—from all political parties—are rue to ignore it: Ending cannabis prohibition is a major political concern for Americans.