Hawaii: Bill to Legalize Marijuana goes to Senate Floor

By Chronic Staff | Recent News | March 8, 2021

Along with the measure to expand decriminalization, the bill to legalize marijuana in Hawaii takes a step to the senate floor.

On March 3, Hawaii lawmakers decided to push forward with the bill which will legalize the sales of marijuana. This includes allowing adults from 21 and above to care for and grow the plant at the convenience of their homes.

The vote came a day after the panel approved separate legislation in order to increase the amount of marijuana that is decriminalized under existing state law. It came at the joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means committees. Two members of the Ways and Means Committee voted in opposition while the Judiciary Committee voted universally.

The proposal, Senate Bill 767, shall allow adults 21 and older to have up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use while the Department of Health shall still draft the guidelines on business licenses and sales by July.

The bill does not impact the state’s existing medical marijuana system that allows registered patients to have up to four ounces of marijuana. However, driving under the influence is still illegal and employers can continue to prevent workers from consuming or screen them as well under this proposal.

Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Karl Rhoads (D) said that a recommendation of approval of the legalization bill with some amendments such as tax and criminal penalties. One of those would forbid cannabis use where alcohol is not allowed. Another one is a minimal increase of limit from 28.5g to 3og. Two years ago, he passed a proposal but did not move thereafter.

Lawmakers removed criminal penalties for having small amounts of marijuana and replaced it with a $130 fine. It was in place last year which covers up to 3 grams of possession of cannabis. A bill related to this, Senate Bill 578, proposes an increase to 30grams. It is expected to be considered by the 2nd week of this month.

Gov. David Ige (D) opposed marijuana reforms before. It was a tough call to have lawmakers pass the decriminalization bill in 2019.

The advocates are elated on last Wednesday’s vote to move forward. They presented and called for lawmakers to give attention to social and racial equity in the proposal to legalize.

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