Today, the Senate Committees on Health and Human Services and
Commerce and Consumer Protection voted to pass Senate Bill 375 (SB375) with amendments.
The bill seeks to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis and other related products intended for responsible adult use. Additionally, it proposes the establishment of the Hawaiʻi Cannabis Authority (the authority) while also exempting sales of cannabis and its manufactured products for medical use from the general excise tax.
The amendments incorporated in the bill encompass a few key points. Firstly, the authority will be required to implement rules on licensing, fees, operations, testing, and all issues concerning the dispensing, sale, and taxation of adult-use cannabis pursuant to Chapter 91.
The authority must complete the adoption of these rules by December 1, 2024, and applications for licenses must begin by January 31, 2025. Licenses must be issued no later than March 30, 2025.
The bill also transfers all jurisdictions relating to medical marijuana dispensary operations, licensing, testing, and administration previously under the Department of Health to the authority.
In addition, it legalizes possession of cannabis by adults in amounts of four ounces or less and mandates that any convictions for adult possession of four ounces or less be expunged.
Lastly, the bill includes appropriations for the Department of Health to implement these measures.
“Enacting legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana in Hawaiʻi would bring about not just a triumph for individual liberties and reform of the criminal justice system, but it would also create prospects for fresh sources of income and economic advancement in the state,” said Senator Joy San Buenaventura, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. “By adopting a conscientious and closely monitored cannabis sector, Hawaiʻi has the potential to generate considerable tax revenue and employment opportunities while also providing support to local farmers and other small-scale enterprises.”
In addition, Senator Jarrett Keohokalole, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, remarked that the bill requires the authority to enforce guidelines that relate to all issues concerning the distribution, sale, and taxation of adult-use cannabis.
“This bill helps to ensure that the authority adheres to the procedures laid out in Chapter 91,” said Sen. Keohokalole. “These requirements ensure that the authority's procedure of formulating regulations is transparent and includes public participation.”
SB375 now moves to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.