A deadline was missed, interfering with the progress of a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana use for state residents in Hawaii.
The bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Kalani English, was set to go before both the Senate Ways and Means committee and the Senate Health committee and had to do so by March 1. However, the Senate Health committee did not schedule a meeting in that timeframe, killing the bill because it did not meet requirements by deadline.
Sen. English has introduced bills to legalize marijuana for 15 years, with similar results throughout that time period. However, this year’s bill had higher hopes because half of the Democrats in the Senate had co-sponsored the proposed legislation.
For Rep. Della Au Belatti, the House Majority Leader, the focus is on moving forward in a steady manner and continuing to consider education programs and drug treatment programs the priority before legalization. Belatti noted she supports the idea of decriminalizing marijuana rather than full legalization.
The fight to legalize recreational use has been a long one, and is in direct contrast to the move to legalize medicinal use of the drug — where Hawaii moved to approve that legislation in 2000. However, following the legalization, the details of the dispensary system took an agonizing 15 years to hash out. The 17,000 patients living in Hawaii that qualified for a now legal treatment were forced to find the plant on their own or grow it themselves in the meantime.
The cost for business owners who obtained a license after the medical marijuana legalization was around $75,000, and the requirement was to maintain a storefront despite the fact no products were available to sell. The process finally made progress in 2015 when a system was implemented, although many of those businesses flirted with bankruptcy in the time they were required to maintain those businesses without revenue.
The medical marijuana law also prohibited islanders from carrying their medical marijuana license between the seven islands, thereby further straining the issue of marijuana use for those deemed qualified to use it for treatment.