Two Hawaii Senate committees on Thursday advanced a bill to legalize cannabis for adult use, KHON2 reports. The measure passed out of the Health and Human Services Committee 2-1 with two excused, and out of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee 3-1 with one excused.
The measure would allow retail sales to adults 21-and-older and impose a tax on those sales. Medical cannabis sales would be exempt from the cannabis excise tax. The legislation would also create the Hawaii Cannabis Authority and regulators would have to adopt industry rules by Dec. 1, 2024, begin the application process by Jan. 31, 2025, and issue licenses by Mar. 30, 2025.
Under the measure, adults would be allowed to legally possess up to four ounces of cannabis.
Sen. Joy San Buenaventura (D), chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said the reforms would “bring about not just a triumph for individual liberties and reform of the criminal justice system, but it would also create prospects for fresh sources of income and economic advancement in the state.”
Sen. Brenton Awa (R), a member of the health committee, voted “yes” but “with reservations” due to his concern about high dispensary prices and the bill allegedly favoring commercial growers over small farms.
“The dispensaries are the problem. You go into a dispensary, I don’t know who could afford it,” Awa said during his remarks, according to a Honolulu Civil Beat report. “To me when you legalize marijuana – if I got to farm, and I’m a grower, I should be able to sell marijuana. Not, I got to go to a dispensary, get a permit and deal with all this stuff.”
The measure moves next to the chamber’s Judiciary Committee and Ways and Means Committee.
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