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Bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Hawaii is moving forward

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Bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Hawaii is moving forward

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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A bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Hawaii has progressed at the state Legislature.

According to a report by Hawaii News Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to advocate the measure, which will make its way to a minimum of two additional committees before the proposed outcome is determined. 

Under the terms of the proposal, existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be allowed to sell adult-use weed to individuals aged 21 and older. A 15 percent excise tax would be added to the retail price of recreational cannabis in Hawaii and 30 percent of the collections would be funneled into educating underage consumers about driving whilst high.

Medical cannabis has been accessible in Hawaii since 2016

Although medical cannabis use is legal in Hawaii, consumption does come with its conditions. In 2016, medical cannabis dispensaries kick-started operations statewide, with sweeping legislation occurring the year prior. This led to the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes in Hawaii.

Individuals who do not suffer from a qualifying condition of some sort may struggle to get their hands on bud in the tropical volcanic archipelago, unless the bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Hawaii passes, of course.

Patients must meet the “Eligible Debilitating Medical Conditions” listed on the official State of Hawaii Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana website.

They are as follows:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (added effective July 1, 2015 as per Act 241), or
  • “The treatment of these conditions”, or
  • “A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome,
  • Severe pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures, including those characteristics of epilepsy, or
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristics of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease.

Hawaii legal cannabis measure would end criminal penalties for pot possession

In Hawaii, cannabis isn’t considered to be one of the “dangerous drugs” that some countries seem to think it is. Take cannabis on the equally tropical Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia for example, where the death penalty exists for individuals caught in possession of the plant.

In fact, Hawaii’s penal code does not include cannabis on its list of “dangerous drugs.” Under the details of the measure to legalize recreational cannabis in Hawaii, criminals who have been punished for possessing half an ounce or less of bud may have their penalties expunged.

In spite of this, individuals convicted of possessing more than half an ounce of weed, be it privately or in public, would not be granted such a privilege.

The rules for smoking legal cannabis products in Hawaii, if the measure passes, will follow those set out for tobacco products.

Hawaii legal cannabis system to be regulated by Department of Health

If the measure for cannabis legalization in Hawaii is approved, the system would be overseen by the Department of Health. At the current time, the department is already regulating Hawaii’s medical cannabis system.

Recreational cannabis sales could start as soon as February 2021, if Hawaii’s cannabis bill is approved by the full state Legislature and the governor.

Lawmakers have, however, been warned by law enforcement officials, including prosecutors and police force members, that permitting recreational cannabis in Hawaii may contribute to weed intoxication-related accidents. In addition to this, concerns have been raised regarding the chances of legalization simplifying minor’s access to cannabis products.

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