Hawaii advances cannabis legalization bills

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The state’s lawmakers have spent the past few years in a struggle over marijuana legalization

In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to officially approve medical marijuana through its legislature. While marijuana use is widespread in Hawaii and not hard to find, growing, selling, and possessing cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal in Hawaii – until now. It has been more than two decades since the state took that first step, but now bills to legalize cannabis for adult use are gaining strong support in the legislature.

Hawaii is a tourist haven for both US residents and people coming from other parts of the world. Arguably, possession of small amounts for personal use is not punishable by jail time, but the margin is so small that you have to be careful what you carry with you every time you travel to Aloha State. However, those restrictions could soon change thanks to a pair of pieces of legislation that recently passed state Senate committees.

During a hearing, Senator Joy San Buenaventura testified about the reform she is sponsoring. It appears that Buenaventura was able to sell the idea because yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee took up that cannabis bill and passed it unanimously on a 3-0 vote. Another separate marijuana legalization bill sponsored by Senator Chris Lee also saw victory when it went before the Senate Health and Human Services and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee in a joint meeting.

The goal of both proposals is to end prohibition and develop a system of marijuana commerce for all those over the age of 21. More debate and filtering lies ahead, but with a vehicle for reform this session, advocates believe there is a good chance that legalization of recreational use will become a reality.