The island state of Hawaii could be one of the next to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older if either of two bills were to make it to the Governor’s desk by the end of this year’s legislative session. Both bills would create an atmosphere quite similar to that in Colorado and Oregon when it comes to legal cannabis consumption and sales – but whether or not they will make it from one chamber to the next, we can only guess at this point.
The first, House Bill 205 – which was filed by Speaker of the House Joseph M. Souki – reads as follows: “Authorizes persons 21 years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. Provides for the licensing of marijuana cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, safety testing facilities, and retail stores” and; “Applies an excise tax on transactions between marijuana establishments.”
This bill is very close to Amendment 64 which passed in Colorado in 2012. It creates an entire industry where cannabis production and sale will be strictly regulated from the time a seed is planted to the time it’s sold in the form of flower, oils, concentrates or edibles. If passed it would create an excise tax on wholesale transactions rather than on the retail sale of the plant – though that will likely be factored into the price of the product.
Senate Bill 169, on the other hand, takes a closer look at legalizing the consumption and possession of marijuana and related concentrates (oils, wax, etc.). However, it does not specifically look to tax and regulate production of the plant like the House Bill aims to do. Instead, it only legalizes the possession and consumption for personal use, while leaving distribution in a commercial form undiscussed (which could be its downfall as that would leave sales open to the illegal market).
Senate Bill 169 reads: “Allows the possession and distribution of marijuana or marijuana concentrate for personal use; provided that the amount of marijuana or marijuana concentrate does not exceed one ounce and is used for private, personal, or recreational purposes by persons twenty-one years of age or older. Creates a defense to a marijuana-related offense if the marijuana or marijuana concentrate was for personal use, except for possession by or distribution to a minor.”
From the looks of it, House Bill 205 would be the most productive for the state of Hawaii – however, these are not the only two bills being considered. There is also House Bill 107, which would decriminalize the possession of an ounce or less statewide and Senate Bill 120, which would remove marijuana from the state’s Controlled Substances Act Schedule I category.
All of these bills will have multiple readings before they pass to the other chamber – but we can hope that one of the bills to legalize will find itself on the Governor’s desk before the end of the 2017 session.