Hawaii Legalization Bill Dead Due To House Leader Inaction

Hawaii Legalization Bill Dead Due To House Leader Inaction

The push for marijuana legalization in Hawaii has hit a significant snag as Rep. Kyle Yamashita (D), chair of the House Finance Committee, announced on Tuesday afternoon that his panel would not consider the legalization measure, SB 3335, ahead of a legislative deadline this week.

The decision effectively ends the bill’s journey through the legislative process, despite its prior approval by the full Senate and several House committees this session. Rep. Yamashita cited numerous concerns regarding the bill’s implementation and the prevailing ‘no’ votes from committee members expressed during the House floor session.

Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki also emphasized the serious reservations voiced by members of Hawaii’s law enforcement regarding the potential impacts of legalization on children, the economy, and overall well-being.

Despite making historic progress, with the bill passing a House floor vote by a narrow margin late last month, the Finance Committee’s reluctance to take up the measure was anticipated by many observers, including Nikos Leverenz of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center.

In response to the setback, the bill’s sponsor in the House, Rep. David Tarnas (D), has committed to introducing a revised version next session. Tarnas aims to address concerns raised during the debate, particularly regarding public safety and health issues.

While the failure of the bill is disappointing to advocates, Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, emphasized the progress made, noting that this session marked the furthest any legalization measure has advanced in Hawaii’s legislature.

The proposal, SB 3335, was a comprehensive plan based on a framework drafted by state Attorney General Anne Lopez (D) and supported by Governor Josh Green. It aimed to allow adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis while establishing a regulatory framework for the industry.

Although the bill’s demise is a setback for legalization efforts, advocates remain undeterred, continuing to push for reform in future legislative sessions. With public support for legalization evident and ongoing discussions about cannabis policy, the issue is likely to remain at the forefront of Hawaii’s political landscape.

Read the whole article from Marijuanamoment here.

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