Legislators in Hawaii File Legalisation Bills for The 2023 Legislative Session, With A New Reform-Minded Governor in Office
On Thursday, legislators in Hawaii formally submitted proposals to legalise marijuana in the state, and supporters of the reform are hopeful that it will finally be adopted with a new pro-legalization governor in office.
In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Democratic sponsors Rep. Jeanné Kapela and Sen. Chris Lee have garnered support from more than a dozen other lawmakers as initial cosponsors.
The provisions were influenced by a state task force’s approved legalisation proposals from 2017.
.At a news meeting last week, Kapela announced her intention to introduce the bill, and officials from prominent advocacy organisations such as the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, and the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii were in attendance.
To paraphrase what she said: “We now have a blueprint for legalising recreational cannabis in our islands.” As someone once said, “Legalizing cannabis is not only an issue of money; it is a problem of moralities.”
Here Are the Key Provisions of The legalization proposal
Those over the age of 21 might have up to 4 ounces of cannabis on them at any given time, and they could grow up to 10 plants in a secure space.
Adults could give away up to an ounce of cannabis to anyone else, for free, and minors could buy up to four ounces from licenced stores once every 15 days.
By December 31, 2025, the state attorney general would need to determine which cannabis-related cases qualify for expungement, and by January 1, 2026, automatic expungements would need to be issued.
With few exceptions, landlords could not forbid their tenants from possessing or using cannabis in any form other than inhalation.
Governor and legislative leaders would appoint nine people to serve on the Hawaii Cannabis Authority. The body would issue licences for marijuana businesses and establish guidelines for the adult-use programme.
Starting on January 1, 2024, existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be eligible to seek dual licences to serve adult consumers. Those dispensaries would then have an exclusive three-year window during which to service both populations.
On January 1, 2024, businesses that do not operate a dispensary will be eligible to apply for cultivation and distribution licences for adults.
Money collected from fines and fees would be put into a “Cannabis Authority Special Fund” to help pay for programme administration.
In order to help those who have been unfairly affected by the drug war, regulators would be responsible for establishing grant, loan, and technical assistance programmes to aid social equity applicants.
Applicants for social equity financing who have annual incomes of $750,000 or less would have 50% of their licence costs waived.
The state’s medical marijuana statute would be changed so that patients from other states could visit dispensaries.
From 2024 to 2028, the sales tax on cannabis would rise from 5% to 15%.
At the state level, marijuana enterprises could claim deductions for operating costs.
A standard excise tax would not apply to the selling of cannabis for medical purposes.
Marijuana businesses could not be banned from operating in any county because of this.
Having things brought to you would be illegal.
Lounges specifically for the recreational use of marijuana could be set up by companies selling the drug.
Marijuana-related paraphernalia would no longer be illegal under the law.
It would be forbidden to use tobacco products in enclosed public areas.
The “Legalization of cannabis for personal or recreational use is a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the present science of cannabis and attitude toward cannabis,” the bill’s introduction text states. The legislature also concludes that legal cannabis businesses might boost the economy, bring in more tax money, and reduce crime.
Over the course of several legislative sessions, lawmakers in the Aloha State have attempted to legalise the practice, but despite the measure being approved in the Senate in 2021, it has stalled after failing to pass a House committee by a critical deadline.
According to Marijuana Moment, DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel at MPP, said, “The Hawaii legislative session is off to a promising start with legalising proposals presented in both chambers.” According to the MPP, “associated organisations are pressing for revisions to the measures we’ve seen thus far, and we anticipate new suggestions will be filed as the bill submission date on January 25 approaches.”
However, he did note that the message of cannabis legalisation seems to be resonating with lawmakers in Hawaii, given the number of proposals and legislative sponsors so far.