Hawaii Attorney General Proposes Marijuana Legalization Bill Despite Her Opposition

Marijuana Legalization Bill

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has released a draft bill that would legalize the adult use of cannabis in the state, but she made it clear that she does not support the policy change. The bill, which was sent to lawmakers on Friday, is based on the recommendations of a task force that studied the issue last year. It aims to create a regulated market for marijuana, while also addressing public health and safety concerns.

The bill’s main features

The bill would allow adults 21 and older to possess, cultivate, and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers. It would also establish a Hawaii Cannabis Authority to oversee the program and issue licenses for cannabis businesses. Some of the key provisions of the bill are:

  • Adults could possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants per household, with a limit of three mature plants at a time.
  • Retailers could sell up to one ounce of cannabis per transaction, and adults could gift cannabis without remuneration.
  • The sales tax on cannabis would be 15 percent, with revenues going to the Cannabis Authority Special Fund, the general fund, and the counties.
  • The bill would not provide for expungements of past cannabis convictions, but it would require a report on the advisability of doing so by December 31, 2026.
  • The bill would prohibit public consumption of cannabis, driving under the influence of cannabis, and possession of cannabis on school grounds or in correctional facilities.
  • The bill would allow landlords to ban smoking or vaping of cannabis on their properties, but not other forms of consumption.
  • The bill would create a grant program to support social equity applicants who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, and waive 50 percent of their license fees.

The bill’s mixed reactions

The bill has drawn mixed reactions from lawmakers, advocates, and stakeholders. Some praised the bill for being comprehensive and incorporating best practices from other states that have legalized cannabis. Others criticized the bill for being too restrictive, lacking equity provisions, and maintaining criminal penalties for some cannabis-related activities.

Marijuana Legalization Bill

Rep. Jeanne Kapela, who introduced a similar legalization bill in the House last year, said she was pleased with the attorney general’s draft and hoped to work with her to pass it in the upcoming legislative session. She said legalizing cannabis was a matter of morality and justice, as well as economic opportunity and revenue generation.

Sen. Chris Lee, who sponsored a legalization bill in the Senate last year, said he was impressed by the bill’s efforts to address public health and safety issues, such as preventing youth access, impaired driving, and diversion to the black market. He said he was optimistic that the bill would have a good chance of passing in 2024, especially with the support of the new governor, Rick Blangiardi, who has expressed openness to legalization.

However, some advocates and activists were not satisfied with the bill and called for revisions. They said the bill did not go far enough in providing reparative justice for those who have been harmed by cannabis prohibition, and that it continued to criminalize some cannabis consumers and growers. They also said the bill did not allocate enough funds for education, prevention, and treatment programs, and that it gave too much power to the Cannabis Authority.

Karen O’Keefe, the director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the bill fell short of fostering equity and social justice. She said the bill should include automatic expungements, home delivery, consumption lounges, and more funding for community reinvestment. She also said the bill should reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for minor cannabis offenses, such as possessing more than one ounce or growing more than six plants.

Carl Bergquist, the executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the bill was a good starting point, but that it needed more input from the public and the stakeholders. He said the bill should reflect the will of the people, who have overwhelmingly supported legalization in polls and surveys. He also said the bill should ensure that the cannabis industry is diverse, inclusive, and locally owned.

The bill’s prospects

The bill faces an uncertain future in the legislature, where previous legalization efforts have stalled or failed. The bill will have to go through multiple committees and votes in both chambers, and overcome potential opposition from some lawmakers, law enforcement, and anti-legalization groups.

The bill will also have to align with the governor’s vision and priorities, as he will have the final say on whether to sign or veto it. Gov. Blangiardi has said he is open to legalization, but that he wants to see a well-regulated system that protects public health and safety. He has also said he wants to consult with the attorney general, the law enforcement, and the medical community before making a decision.

The bill’s supporters are hopeful that 2024 will be the year that Hawaii joins the growing number of states that have legalized cannabis for adult use. They say legalization will end the failed war on drugs, reduce racial disparities, generate tax revenues, create jobs, and respect personal freedom and choice.

The bill’s opponents are skeptical that legalization will bring any benefits, and warn that it will increase social harms, such as addiction, crime, violence, and mental health problems. They say legalization will send the wrong message to the youth, undermine public safety, and harm the environment and the culture of Hawaii.

The debate over legalization is likely to heat up in the coming months, as the bill makes its way through the legislative process. The bill’s fate will depend on the evidence, the arguments, and the voices of the people of Hawaii.

By Benjamin Parker

Benjamin Parker is a seasoned senior content writer specializing in the CBD niche at CBD Strains Only. With a wealth of experience and expertise in the field, Benjamin is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content on all things CBD-related. His in-depth knowledge and passion for the benefits of CBD shine through in his articles, offering readers a deeper understanding of the industry and its potential for promoting health and wellness.

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