Medical marijuana dispensary legislation approved by legislature; session in recess until 2016
Last update: May 26, 2015
The Hawaii Legislature has sent legislation to Gov. David Ige that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the Aloha State! The bill is now one signature away from becoming law, so if you are a resident of Hawaii, please email the governor today and ask him to sign HB 321 without delay.
HB 321 will initially allow eight dispensaries (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants as well as the two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.
In addition to HB 321, the Hawaii Legislature has before it legislation that would replace criminal penalties for possession of marijuana with a civil violation and proposals to end the Aloha State’s marijuana prohibition by taxing and regulating adult marijuana sales similarly to Colorado. Hawaii has a two-year session, so lawmakers can take up these issues when they reconvene in Honolulu next January.
Hawaiians support ending marijuana prohibition
A QMark Research poll, commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, found that 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana, 69% think that jail time for marijuana offenses is inappropriate, and an overwhelming 57% favor legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. This last number is 20% higher than the last poll conducted in 2005.
In addition to polling, an economic analysis was commissioned from University of Hawaii economist David Nixon. Dr. Nixon estimates that Hawaii could redirect $9 million annually if it stopped arresting individuals for marijuana possession. Additionally, Hawaii could generate tax revenues of up to $11 million annually if the state legalized, regulated, and taxed the sale of marijuana to adults.
Multiple bills have been filed that will end Hawaii’s marijuana prohibition this session, giving legislators the opportunity to take a fiscally sound approach to marijuana policy when they reconvene in 2016. Please ask your legislators to support ending the costly and futile prohibition of marijuana.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Hawaii, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.