States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: April 04, 2023
Hawaii legalization bill stalls, but hope remains for 2024
On March 16, 2023, the last cannabis legalization bill standing — SB 669 —failed to receive a hearing in the House before a legislative deadline. As a result, the bill is dead for the year. This marks the second time that a legalization bill has passed the Senate in a landslide but failed to even receive a hearing in the House. You can check out a summary of the amended version of SB 669 here.
But now is not the time for despair. It’s time to organize. Hawaii's legislative sessions last two years. SB 669 can still be improved and get past the finish line — in 2024.
In the coming months we plan to work with House committee chairs, their staff and other advocates to ensure that 2024 is the year Hawaii stops being an island of prohibition. To keep up with all the progress and the latest updates, please follow our coalition page on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
House legalization proposals fail to meet deadlines; Two Senate Legalization proposals advance
On February 8, 2023, all three house legalization proposals failed to be scheduled for their first hearing ahead of the triple referral deadline which means HB1216, HB237 and HB1425 are officially finished for the 2023 legislative session.
Meanwhile in the Senate, on February 16, 2023, the Judiciary committee advanced SB 669 on a 3 to 0 vote with 2 members absent. SB 669 was also amended to add the expungement language from SB 375. While we support SB 669’s legalization and home cultivation for adults over 21, the bill falls short in some areas: it allows the eight current medical licensees to covert without requiring they prioritize patients’ supply and it still doesn't include market opportunities or support for communities hardest hit by prohibition. That's why we're urging the Consumer Protection and Ways and Means committees to amend SB 669 before it advances to the Senate floor for a vote. You can read our previous testimony on SB 669 here.
Also, on February 16, 2023, the Consumer Protection and Health and Human Services committees both approved SB 375. SB 375 was amended to remove the 3-year period of exclusivity for existing medical businesses and establish clear timelines for when the Department of Health must release applications and issue licenses for new cannabis businesses. We strongly support SB 375 which includes legalization, home cultivation, and expungement relief measures for those directly impacted by cannabis prohibition in Hawaii. We also know that SB 375 can be amended to strengthen the social equity, expungement, and consumer protection measures. So, we're also calling on the Judiciary and Ways and Means committees to amend SB 375 and passes it out of committee. You can check out our previous testimony on SB 375 here.
Both bills are scheduled to be heard on March 1, 2023, by the Consumer Protection and Ways and Means committees and the Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, respectively.
Hawaii Legislative 2023 convenes; Several Legalization Measures Introduced
On January 18, 2023, the Hawai’i’ legislature kicked off the 2023 legislative session. You might recall that last year saw several legalization bills proposed in both chambers but none received a hearing. This year, there are at least six legalization proposals in play and recently elected Governor Josh Green (D) has been vocal about his willingness to sign a legalization bill that makes it to his desk.
In the Senate, there are three legalization measures - SB 669 sponsored by Sen. San Buenaventura (D). You might recall in 2021, SB 767 passed the Senate on a 20-5 vote but the measure wouldn’t have become effective until 2137. Although SB 767 ultimately passed the Senate the measure stalled in the House where it failed to gain enough traction with House leadership to be called for hearing.
The House also has three legalization measures in play – HB 1216 sponsored by Rep. Bellati (D), HB 237 sponsored by Rep. Kapela (D) You can read our bill summaries on each proposal here.
Hawaii's legislative session moves very quickly and each proposal needs to make it out of its first of committee by February 8 in order to be heard by its last committee ahead of the February 17 "First Lateral" deadline.
Hawaii Dual Use Taskforce Concludes; Delivers Report to Governor & Legislature
On November 22, 2022, the Dual Use Cannabis Taskforce voted to adopt their final report. The Task Force was not asked to, and did not, consider whether there should be a dual use system. Rather, as directed by Act 169, the Task Force assumed that there will be a dual use system and then identified and studied the important issues that would be raised by such a system.
The Department of Health convened the Task Force and invited members of the public to participate in monthly meetings from April 2022 through November 2022. The meetings included hearing from the public, as well as subject matter experts, and working groups formed to study important issues pertaining to medical and non-medical cannabis use, and considerations for cannabis legalization.
The Task Force established five working groups that were assigned to study and report on the following topic areas: the types of tax structures and tax rates that would be beneficial for Hawaii; cannabis justice reform, service equity, and market equity policies to reduce and remediate disparities caused by cannabis criminalization in Hawaii; the allowable market structures and restrictions on licenses and home growing; the concerns and priorities of registered medical use patients and certifying providers; and policies to safeguard public and consumer health and safety.
This final report addresses the areas studied by giving a synopsis of the working group findings and the Task Force discussions. You can find the final report here.
Hawaii legislative session ends; legalization proposals fail to gain traction
On Wednesday, May 5, the Hawaii Legislature adjourned the 2022 legislative session. Several legalization proposals carried over from the prior year, but none were called for a hearing or vote in either chamber. However, both chambers passed HB 2260 – An Act Relating to Cannabis – which makes several updates to Hawaii’s medical cannabis program. You can find a summary of HB 2260 here.
Although outgoing Gov. David Ige (D) remains opposed, 73% of Hawaii residents support legalization, according to a Civiqs research poll. As we head into the election season, it’s more important than ever we let lawmakers know we want them to support a legal cannabis market that creates jobs and revenue for Hawaiian residents. Please sign up for our email updates on voter registration and the 2022 election voter guide.
Hawaii Dual Use Cannabis Task Force convenes
On Monday, April 25 , the Dual Use of Cannabis Task Force convened its first meeting. During the 2021 legislative session, SB 1139, which mandated the task force, was passed by both chambers and signed into law as Act 169. Under Act 169, the task force is charged with exploring the development of a dual system program of cannabis legalization and the impacts of legalization on qualifying patients, including access to medical cannabis by qualifying patients. The office of medical cannabis control and regulation is required to submit a report of the task force findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2023.
The task force is compromised of the following members:
Garret Halydier, Esq. – Adult-Use Legal Scholar and Proponent
Nikos Leverenz, Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center – Patient Advocate
Wendy Gibson-Vivian, RN, BSN – Patient Advocate
Randy Gonce, Executive Director – Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association
Rep. Ryan I. Yamane – Hawaii House of Representatives
Sen. Joy A. San Buenaventura – Hawaii State Senate
Terilynne Gorman, Communications Team Manager – County of Maui
Ellen Ching, Administrator Boards and Commissions – County of Kauai
Dr. James Ireland, Director Honolulu Emergency Services – Certifying Medical Provider
Barett Otani, Executive Assistant – County of Hawaii
Jared Redulla, Chief Investigator Narcotics Enforcement Division – Department of Public Safety
Issac Choy, Director – Department of Taxation
Michele N. Nakata, Chief Office of Medical Cannabis Control, Department of Health
Jo Ann Uchida Takeuchi, Deputy Director, Department of Consumer Affairs
Dori Palcovich, Economic Development Specialist, Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
The task force will meet every last Monday of the month from May until November. Meeting information can be found here.
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Last week, the Hawaii Legislature adjourned its legislative session. The Hawaii Senate approved a legalization bill in 2021 that carried over to 2022. Unfortunately, the House never gave it a public hearing or a vote, and several other legalization bills died without a vote.