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Hawaii Recreational Cannabis Bill Fails to Proceed

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Although many other states have made the leap into approving recreational cannabis, the state of Hawaii proved last Friday that it is not ready to move forward. On March 1, Senate Bill 686 did not receive attention from legislators prior to the deadline of consideration.

The bill needed to pass the Senate Health Committee, as well as Senate Ways and Means Committee, by Friday in order to be considered by the state Senate. However, a meeting with the Senate Health Committee was not schedule by the deadline, resulting in the bill’s failure to move forward.

SB-686 was initially approved by the Hawaiian Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 7. In it’s current wording, it allowed for adults over the age of 21 years to consume, possess and cultivate cannabis. It also included rules regarding manufacturing, sales, proposed taxes and that the Hawaiian Department of Health would oversee the program.

Many legislators are certain that recreational cannabis will be in Hawaii’s future, even if it doesn’t happen soon. “I also think that we have enough folks who are sitting around the table who are saying ‘Let’s do it right. Let’s not just rush into things and let’s do it right,’” said House Majority Leader Rep. Della Au Belatti. He personal interest in cannabis legalization include a well-thought out period of research of how other states approached the topic, as well as ideas to implement abuse prevention and educational programs to protect citizens.

Similarly, Sen. Karl Rhoads believes that prohibition is not a solution. “We’ve been trying to squish it out, squeeze it out, by making it illegal. And it’s just failed miserably,” he told The Associated Press.

Hawaii initially legalized medical cannabis in 2000, approximately four years after the first state, California, legalized medical cannabis. It’s taken many years to establish rules to regulate such a system, but with the proper framework in place, Hawaii could soon have a successful industry. Although the attempt began and failed quickly, it is only a matter of time before another, stronger attempt will be made once again.

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