Hawaii is primed to legalize marijuana sooner than we may think. Just last week Hawaii House lawmakers said a marijuana legalization bill passed through the chamber and represents “incredible compromise” that could lead to legalization in the island state. At a virtual town hall last week Rep. Jeanne Kapela (D) talked about steps for SB 669, which cleared the senate with a few alterations just before the crossover deadline. Kapela, the main sponsor of the legalization measure described the Senate-passed bill as a “good starting point”.
Kapela said this in an interview, “It shows that we can all work together to come up with a bill that really meets the needs, I think, of medical patients, but it also protects small cannabis farms and, hopefully, the people that will potentially be able to join into a robust legalization system… as legislators we have a responsibility to enact systemic solutions that promote social justice… Any bill that’s going to be about recreational cannabis use has to have social equity at its heart,” she said. “Ending mass incarceration and establishing the biggest mass expungement program ever seen on our shores here in Hawaii is exactly the kind of systemic solutions that we should be pursuing, and I think that this bill takes a crack at that, and that’s really fantastic.”
Within SB 669 there were a few amendments from the last bill that did not pass. Below are the main components.
- Adults 21 and older can purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to 6 plants.
- An independent Hawaii Cannabis Regulatory Authority would be established under the Department of Health to regulate the industry.
- The market would start through a pilot program, allowing medical marijuana facilities to receive dual licenses for recreational cannabis.
- 10% tax on marijuana products. Revenue would go to the state treasury.
- Cannabis vaping ban was removed from the bill.
- Pathways for expungement for prior cannabis-related crimes established.
- To minimize monopolies, the amount of marijuana businesses allowed by one individual or entity will be capped.
- Adults cannot consume cannabis in areas where tobacco smoke is banned.
While this reform may take more time to come to fruition, legislators and advocates are working around the clock to legalize cannabis in the state of Hawaii. The new Governor Josh Green (D) vowed to make some progress in this area. We can expect legalization to come within the next few years if all goes to plan.
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