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Hawaii House committee advances marijuana bill

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 6:43 a.m. HST, Mar 15, 2013

A bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is making its way through the Hawaii House of Representatives.

The judiciary committee approved the bill Thursday over objections from law enforcement officials who say the proposal would undermine their work.

The Senate version of the bill decriminalized up to 1 ounce of the drug. But House judiciary committee Chairman Karl Rhoads amended the measure to decrease the amount to seven-tenths of 1 ounce, or 20 grams.

Rhoads also added language to say possession by minors is still criminal and emphasize negative effects of the drug on youth.

Vice Chairwoman Sharon Har says the proposal conflicts with federal law, jeopardizes public safety and sends the wrong message to children. Har voted to pass the bill with strong reservations.

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