The Hawaii Senate approves measures to legalize hashish

Hawaii is a cannabis market that the industry has been looking at with interest, and now they may get the green light to go online. This week the Senate voted to pass two cannabis reform bills that are now going to the House.

Senate Bill 767, which would legalize and regulate recreational cannabis, passed the Senate by a margin of 20-5. If required by law, anyone age 21 and older can buy and own one ounce of cannabis and up to six plants for that grow personal use.

Hawaii is already somewhat decriminalized with 2019 laws reducing criminal penalties for possession of cannabis, but only up to three grams. Instead of spending time in jail or paying a hefty fee and getting a strike on permanent record , those in possession of three grams or less of cannabis are currently facing a non-criminal infringement and a $ 130 fine.

The other bill under consideration, Senate Bill 785, was passed 24 to 1. It would increase decriminalization from three grams to 30 grams and help clear up past cannabis cases. While it wouldn’t create a recreational industry, it would ensure that the war on drugs ends when it comes to cannabis.

Will the bills make it to the governor’s desk?

While the Senate’s passage was a big deal, some fear these bills won’t get through the House as the elected officials there are more conservative. There are rumors that a key member of the House Committee is not hearing the measure at all.

“When it comes to legalization, I really think we need to get the medical marijuana program going in a much healthier way before we’re ready for any kind of legalization,” said Mark Nakashima, chairman of the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee upcoming bills. “I really think the pharmacies really need to be given a chance to really perform.”

If the bills clear the house, there is no guarantee that Governor David Ige will sign them. While he’s a Democrat, he hasn’t officially signed the decriminalization laws he has approved, and he has raised concerns about legalizing adult use, at least as long as things aren’t legal nationwide.

“I should have a look at it. I have doubts. Marijuana is still a List I substance that is heavily regulated by the federal government, ”Ige said of the concept of legalizing adult use. “Until that is changed, it is confusing for the public to believe that it is legalized here, but if they carry it over certain amounts they could actually be prosecuted and jailed for a very long time.”

If the bills go through, regulating Hawaiian cannabis would be similar to their existing medical program. Licenses for cultivation and pharmacies would be handled by the state’s tax ministry, which would then generate income. With limited access to banking, the industry would likely start out mostly with cash only.

There’s still a chance this bill will die on the vine, but it’s already gotten further than it did in the state of Hawaii.

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