Yo, what’s up? This is Dan, and I’m here to tell you about the latest news from Hawaii. On March 7, the Hawaii Senate made a move to legalize adult-use cannabis by passing the SB669 SD2 bill with a 22-3 vote. This bill would set up a whole system for cultivating, manufacturing, and selling weed, as well as setting taxes. Under this bill, residents can possess up to 30 grams of weed, cultivate six plants for personal use, and even decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.
The bill was first introduced by Sen. Joy A. San Buenaventura, Sen. Stanley Chang, Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, and Sen. Angus LK McKelvey on Jan. 20, and has passed through various committee hearings over time. The Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Sen. Keohokalole, made some amendments to the bill that included establishing penalties for unlicensed cultivation, protecting employers who want to prohibit employee cannabis use, preventing any cannabis business from opening within 1,000 feet of youth-related areas, and other changes related to licensing.
Sen. Keohokalole said that “these amendments are reflective of the Senate’s commitment to ensuring a fair and well-regulated cannabis market that provides safe access to both adult consumers and existing medical patients.” He also hopes that the Governor will support this bill since he has opposed every proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis so far.
On Jan. 11, Rep. Kapela introduced another adult-use cannabis bill called HB-237 that also aimed to establish a regulatory framework for legalization. This bill would allow out-of-state patients to benefit from medical cannabis law and make medical cannabis sales exempt from being charged with the general excise tax. Kapela also introduced HB-283 that would prohibit employers from discriminating against potential hires or current employees for their medical cannabis consumption. However, neither of these bills have progressed past hearings.
A recent poll conducted by the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association at the end of January showed that 86% of adult Hawaiian residents are in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis while only 9% are in opposition and 5% said they don’t know. The poll also showed that adult-use was slightly more popular than medical use in a 45% to 41% comparison. If cannabis legalization was passed, the state could collect up to $81.7 million in taxes and $423 million in gross revenue.
According to a report from the Dual Use Cannabis Task Force published in January, cannabis tax revenue could reach between $34 million to $53 million. Rep. Kapela used this data provided by the task force report to create her bill and said that “we all know it is high time to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults in Hawaii.”
Apart from legalizing weed, there have also been efforts to legalize therapeutic psilocybin in Hawaii. One such bill called SB-1454 was introduced in January which aims to establish regulations for a “therapeutic psilocybin working group” to examine the medical benefits of psilocybin for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and end-of-life psychological distress.
That’s all for today folks! Keep an eye out for updates on this situation as it progresses! Peace out!