State lawmakers went into this year’s legislative session with bills regarding prison reform, loosening marijuana laws, raising the minimum wage, plastic waste, disaster relief, more money for schools and resolving water rights issues across the state.
Pot, dope, weed, pakalōlō … all words that people use for marijuana. Medical marijuana is already legal in Hawai‘i. Is it time to legalize marijuana for recreational use? Ten other states have already said yes. Supporters point to possible tax windfalls from retail sales. Opponents cite potential health problems and federal laws against marijuana.
It’s been 17 years since Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana registry program was first enacted, and two years since the legislature passed a law establishing a statewide dispensary system. After the State Department of Health encountered stumbling blocks in implementing this system, Gov.
Hawai‘i legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but it’s been a long and bumpy road to establishing a dispensary system. The latest delay came on April 13, with the State Health Department saying it needs more time to access criminal histories of finalists for licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana.
Since Hawai‘i approved marijuana for medical treatment 15 years ago, other states have surged ahead with dispensaries, and in some cases, marijuana decriminalization. Advocates are hoping for a statewide dispensary system, and concerned parents and law enforcement fear that medical marijuana could be abused.