HONOLULU(KHON2)–The new decade kicks off with several new laws. One aims to protect the environment, another makes healthy drink options for keiki the default at fast food restaurants and a third reduces the penalty for marijuana possession.
“I would say banning plastic bags, is really overdue,” said Dennis Wasnea who is visiting from Canada. “It seems common sense that people would just take a reusable bag with them to the store.”
The ban on plastic bags goes into effect Wednesday, January 1, 2020. It includes all thick plastic bags and compostable bags. The law aims to reduce plastic waste and protect the ocean and marine life.
Honolulu resident Becky McColl said she agrees with the ban 100 percent.
“I remember my bags now, I’ve been practicing,” McColl said.
McColl said she thinks it’s important because whenever she and her husband pick up trash in their neighborhood a large portion of it is plastic bags.
Honolulu resident Reid Karin said he thinks the ban is a step in the right direction but noted that it could be a challenge for some stores.
“I think it could be an inconvenienve for some people in businesses but at the same time we got to change with the times,” Karin said.
Shoppers are urged to remember to bring their reusable bags from home.
Another law taking effect January 1st is focused on healthy eating habits for island keiki. Act 138 requires restaurants to offer white milk, water or juice as the default beverage to kids.
Parent Erica Martin said she thinks it’s a fantastic idea.
“As a mom of two young children, I think we always think, what’s the healthiest thing we can do. And when kids aren’t with us, they don’t always make the right choices. So it’s nice to have another adult offer milk or juice before a soda. And I think if we can, as parents, have support from the general community, that’s always a great idea,” Martin explained.
Parent Ryan Erlenbach said while nutrition is important for kids, he thinks it’s harsh to make a law to enforce it.
“There’s a good moral to it–it’s trying to help, but it’s a little excessive to put it into law I believe,” Erlenbach said.
January 11th brings the decriminalization of marijuana. Bill 1383 will make anyone caught with three grams of pot or less pay a fine of $130. The law also allows anyone previously found guilty of possession of three grams or less to have their records expunged.
“I think decrimininalizatin will do a big thing in reducing the amount of incarcerations especially for people who really don’t deserve it, because once you’re branded a criminal in our society it’s really hard to move past that,” Karin said.
Karin added that he doesn’t encourage drug use of any kind but believes people should be allowed to do what they choose to and shouldn’t be condemened for it.
Hawaii resident Moses Bae said he feels it’s ridiculous that marijuana isn’t already legalized.
“I think it’s inconsistent that marijuana is illegal and a lot of more harmful drugs are legal–alcohol, tobacco. So I say we fully legalize it and fully legalize the recreational side as well– use that money for a lot of things that we need,” Bae said.
“If you see the different states that have legalized (marijuana for recreational use) in the past, like Washington, Colorado, it’s been a booming industry. It’s a billion dollar industry and I think that could help the (Hawaii) a lot,” explained resident Jerry Xue.
But not everyone thinks the new law is a good thing.
“I think the laws for marijuana should be harsher,” said Honolulu resident Jenny Uyemura-Reyes. “I know a lot of people find health benefits but I also know a lot of people with health problems that don’t use marijuana. I don’t think we need it.”
The new year also brings recognition for transgender individuals. HB 1165 goes into effect on July 1, 2020. The law recognizes gender neutrality and allows non gender specific individuals to choose gender X on their Hawaii driver license.