The Hawaii Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed an adult-use legalization bill by a 22-3 margin. The measure still requires approval in the House.
If enacted, the legislation would legalize possession of up to 30 grams by adults, reduce penalties for unlicensed cultivation and sales, allow adults to cultivate up to six plants within their residence, and expunge records for possession.
The measure would also establish a Hawaii Cannabis Authority and require medical licensees to present a medical preservation plan before they are allowed to convert to dual-use businesses.
In 2021, a similar measure died in the lower chamber. Earlier this month, during an appearance on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” program, House Speaker Scott Saiki (D) said he would rather the state wait on approving the reforms, preferring a working group to analyze the plan over the summer.
A poll released in January by the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association found 86% of Hawaii residents surveyed backed the reforms, according to a KITV4 report.
A report released in January by the Dual Use Cannabis Task Force suggested cannabis tax revenues derived from adult-use cannabis sales could reach between $34 million and $53 million annually.
During his campaign, Democratic Gov. Josh Green said if elected he would sign a cannabis legalization bill were it to make it to his desk. During a debate in October 2022, Green said the tax revenues would be used “in the development and recreation” of the state’s “mental healthcare system for the good of all,” according to a Spectrum News report.
“I think that people already have moved past that culturally as a concern,” he said.
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