After several failed attempts in the past, renewed efforts to legalize recreational cannabis are underway in the Hawaiian Islands. On March 9, the Hawaii Senate voted to pass a law legalizing cannabis for adults aged 21 and over.
Note, however, that a similar bill released its first Senate committee in 2019 but made no further progress. Hawaii Civil Beat reports that upon arrival at the House of Representatives, the bill could be dead after a key House chairman said he might not even be able to hear the measure on the ground.
Mark Nakashima, chair of the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said he has no intention of allowing a hearing on the recreational cannabis bill, which could again spell disaster for Hawaiian cannabis advocates. “When it comes to legalization, I really think we need to get the medical marijuana program up and running in a much healthier way before we’re ready for any kind of legalization,” said Nakashima said. “I really think the pharmacies really need to be given a chance to really perform.”
If Senate Act 767 ultimately successful, Hawaii would become the 16th state to legalize recreational cannabis. Individuals 21 and older could own up to 30 grams of cannabis, or about an ounce.
The regulatory system would mirror Hawaii’s existing medical cannabis regulations. The state’s Department of Taxation would administer recreational cannabis and issue licenses to farmers and businesses.
Tax director Isaac Choy expressed concern that the state lacks expertise in regulating cannabis and warned that due to the federal classification of cannabis, like other states, pharmacies would have to pay taxes in cash.
Hawaii’s medical cannabis program is still changing. About five months ago, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed law providing for this Provide patients with access to cannabis-infused foodafter the state’s medical cannabis program ran for about 20 years.