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Hawaii House Committee Rejects Hearing for Recreational Weed Measure, Ending Effort for 2024

Hawaii House Committee (Credits: Homeland Security)

Just a month ago, Hawaii seemed poised for a total change toward establishing an adult-use cannabis market. The Senate had passed a bill with a solid majority to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis.

However, recent developments have stalled the bill’s progress, as a crucial House committee decided not to proceed, marking a pause in the push for reform until at least 2024.

Hawaii, known for being the first U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis in 2000, now faces another year without moving forward on adult-use cannabis reform. Despite the bill’s advancement in the Senate and a close vote in the House, the legislation hit a roadblock in the House Finance Committee.

Marijuana Leaves (Credits: Virginia Mercury)

The Committee Chair, Rep. Kyle Yamashita, stated the decision was due to concerns about implementing the bill and prioritizing budget allocations for community recovery from recent wildfires.

The proposed legislation, SB 3335, aimed to allow adults over 21 to possess cannabis and establish a regulated market, including taxation and home cultivation provisions.

It also proposed expunging records for low-level cannabis offenses, though this was later limited to a pilot program. Critics of the bill pointed to added law enforcement measures and the potential for increased DUI issues as drawbacks.

Marijuana Plant (Credits: Vox)

Despite this setback, the push for legalization has major public support, with recent polls showing most of Hawaii’s adult residents in favor. Governor Josh Green has indicated he would sign such a bill, suggesting openness to future attempts at legalization.

Advocates, including Rep. David Tarnas, plan to revisit the issue in the next legislative session, aiming to refine the bill to address the concerns raised. The debate over cannabis legalization in Hawaii reflects broader national discussions about drug policy, public safety, and economic impacts.

Marijuana Policy Project’s Karen O’Keefe expressed disappointment but noted the progress made, emphasizing continued efforts toward legalization. As Hawaii navigates the complex issues surrounding cannabis reform, the future of legalization remains a topic of interest and debate.

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