Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard calls for marijuana decriminalization
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced a bi-partisan House Resolution, that aims to de-criminalize marijuana nationwide. HR 1227 is known as the "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act."
"Our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals," said Rep. Gabbard, "sending them to jail, ruining their lives, tearing apart families, and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for marijuana use."
If HR 1227, passes-- marijuana will be removed from the federal controlled substance list.
"It's a relic of the war on drugs, it's a relic of the 1930's," said Carl Bergquist, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.
The policy would put cannabis in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.
"It shows that Hawaii is leading the way, she knows what the state's population here thinks," said Bergquist.
A new poll from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii shows 73% of Hawaii residents support the legalization of marijuana, that number goes up to 81% on the neighbor islands.
"I think she was trying to advance a more liberal agenda on this," said Alan Shinn, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Drug-free Hawaii.
The resolution's co-sponsors include four Republicans and three Democrats, but Shinn has concerns about how Gabbard and other lawmakers would define "de-criminalization."
"De-criminalization, if you take it too far, it's legalization," said Shinn.
Despite criticism, Rep. Gabbard believes HR 1227 is a step forward in reforming our criminal justice system.
"The fiscal impacts, the social impacts of our current policy are having devastating ripple effects," said Rep. Gabbard.
The resolution is sitting in a House Judiciary subcommittee.