Hawaiian Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill and Separate Decriminalization Extension Proposal
On Tuesday, the Hawaiian Senate approved a bill to legalize marijuana as well as separate legislation to significantly expand the state's existing decriminalization law.
According to proposition of legalization, which was brought forward at a joint meeting of the Judicial Power and Senate Ways and Means Committees last week, adults would be allowed to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis and grow the plant for their use. staff. The proposal was approved by 20 votes to 5.
The other bill would build on the state's existing decriminalization policy, where possession of three grams or less of marijuana is punished with a fine of $ 130 and no threat of jail time. The Senate passed legislation to raise this threshold to 30 grams, or just over an ounce, by a vote of 24 to 1.
Both bills are now before the House for consideration. If they get final approval from the legislature, however, it remains to be seen how the David Ige (D) government will approach them.
In an interview this month, the governor declined to say whether he would sign or veto a legalization bill if it came to his desk, but he said the federal ban of current marijuana creates complications that would influence her decision.
That said, Hawaii has already established a market for medical cannabis in violation of federal law. The proposal to legalize adult use would specifically maintain the medical program, allowing registered patients to own up to four ounces. It would also require the state's health ministry to develop rules for business licensing and retail sales by July 1, although it is not yet known when the stores will open.
“I would have to examine it. I have concerns. Marijuana is still an Index 1 substance, which is heavily regulated by the federal government, ”he said. "Until that changes, it is confusing for the public to think that it is legalized here, in case of transporting a certain quantity the users can still be prosecuted and sent to jail for a good while"
“This is a historic day for cannabis reform in Hawaii. It is now up to House leaders to make sure this bill moves forward, ”Nikos Leverenz, chairman of the board of directors of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH), told Marijuana Moment. "Legalizing adult cannabis use promises to create many quality jobs in agriculture, retail and other businesses affected by production and distribution."
"This bill is also an important reform of the Hawaiian criminal justice system, which has allowed more than 1000 arrests for possession of cannabis each year," he added. "It should be strengthened to include social equity measures that will help ensure the direct participation of native Hawaiians and others disproportionately affected by eight decades of cannabis bans."
Governor's concerns aside, the two cannabis measures that were approved by the Senate on Tuesday were passed by veto-proof supermajorities.
Hawaiian Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill 2019 , but she did not advance any further.
Regarding decriminalization, Ige was not an enthusiastic supporter of the original reform bill and allowed it to take effect without his signature. He described it as "a very difficult decision" and said he went "back and forth" on the issue before allowing the bill to pass. He also vetoed legislation to add opioid use disorders to the conditions for the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
This track record shows that broader political changes could also meet resistance from the governor.
Separately, Hawaii also introduced a bill to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes but was blocked in committee last month.