July is not only the month when we celebrate our nation’s independence, it also marks the implementation of new legislation.
Here are a few appropriations and regulations taking effect Tuesday.

Starting Tuesday, the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) can grow “industrial hemp,” thanks to SB2175.

The two-year research project involves growing the hemp to remove toxins from contaminated soil, as well as making it a biofuel crop. “Industrial hemp” is marijuana that has a low THC concentration, and its possession will not carry the possibility of a criminal penalty.

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The little fire ant is one of Hawaii’s top invasive species.

flickr: Forest and Kim Starr

Funding also kicks in to aid in invasive species prevention, control and community outreach. As part of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawaii” plan, the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, in coordination with Department of Land and Natural Resources, will be getting up to $5 million, courtesy of HB1716.

Beginning Tuesday, the state will also be accessing and sharing more of an individual’s personal information. SB2420 says that Hawaii state and counties can perform criminal history record checks on employees, contractors and volunteers if the person will have access to sensitive information or firearms that are not being used for law enforcement purposes.

And steps have been taken to prevent those found to be mentally ill from purchasing firearms in Hawaii.  According to HB 2246, those found to be mentally ill will have their information forwarded to the Hawaii criminal justice data center. The center will then forward the information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which monitors who can and cannot purchase a firearm.

Tuesday also changes the legal minimum age for tobacco purchases on the Big Island from 18 to 21. Hawaii County ordinance 13-124 prohibits the sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices to anyone who is born after June 30 1996, until they turn 21.

However, those who are currently 18-20 will still be allowed to purchase tobacco products and electronic smoking devices, as the county is trying to make the transition more gradual for consumers as well as merchants.

Hawaii County joins New York City in raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products.

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