The tropical paradise just got a little better, the state’s senate just approved recreational cannabis.

Hawaii one of the smallest states and is the 39th most populous 1.4 million residents. Two thirds live on Oʻahu. Tourism is the life blood of the island with 932,713 visiting in 2023. In the first quarter of that year,  visitor spending was $2.11 billion, up from $1.78 billion (+18.5%) the previous year.  Now, legal marijuana says Aloha Hawai’i thanks to their state house.

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The rise of marijuana was fueled by the burgeoning jazz scene in the 1930s and ’40s which coincided with the growth of surfing in the in the ’50s. Hawaii become a Mecca for wave, music and sun…and maybe a little something else.  Now Hawaii is enshrining them all into law. Roughly. 58% of Hawai’i residents are in favor of “legalizing marijuana to allow possession, manufacture, and sale of marijuana by and to adults and elected heard the message!

Photo by taengbum via Pixabay

The Hawai’i State Senate passed a bill that would legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older, with am additional focus on public safety. The bill now moves to the Hawai’i House of Representatives for consideration.

Before reaching the Senate floor, the bill was approved by four committees. Amendments  were approved during the committee process, including to add non-discrimination provisions that would prevent children from being taken away based on cannabis, prevent parole/probation revocation, and prevent state benefits and entitlements from being denied; and to provide for expungement and resentencing.

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The Hawai’i alliance for Cannabis reform is very optimistic about it passing the House and being signed by the governor.

Nikos Leverenz, of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i and the Hawai’i Health and Harm Reduction Center shared “Although this is an imperfect bill that still contains far too many elements of criminalization, it’s welcome news to have a viable adult-use legalization bill that can be improved upon when it reaches the House. Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and other members of the Hawaii Alliance for Cannabis Reform are hopeful that our proposed amendments will be considered by the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. It will also be important for reform advocates to engage skeptical members of the House, including many freshman lawmakers, who have placed far too much currency in the monotonous, less than fact-based rhetoric from the criminal legal lobby.”

Things move slower in Hawai’i as the population tends to be stable with few people either moving to or away from the island.  They are very relationship based and having something like this takes time and great effort.

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