Hawaii might be a haven for the liberal and the laidback, but the state once again failed to legalize recreational marijuana. Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English’s bill died over the weekend as it missed a key deadline, despite serious support for the legislation from Democrats.
Many speculated this could be the year for the Aloha State to realize a recreational marijuana program. This was the first time in Hawaiian history an adult-use marijuana bill was unanimously approved by a legislative committee, pushing it one step closer from conception to reality.
But the legislation collapsed as concerns mounted in the state of Hawaii contradicting federal law on the issue. The final blow came Friday, which was the deadline for Senate Health Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee to schedule another hearing for a floor vote from the full Senate. But the Health Committed didn’t schedule any hearing, a move that ended any chance of the bill’s advancement.
Sen. Roz Baker—who chairs the Health Committee—worried that passing adult-use marijuana legislation could harm the state’s nascent medical marijuana program, which is just beginning to gain traction. Legal medical cannabis sales only started back in January of this year. Concerns over cutting the program at its knees in pursuit of recreational marijuana have also been echoed by Hawaii’s Democratic Gov. David Ige.
This does not mean Hawaiian lawmakers are against adult-use marijuana legislation in the future. Before the bill died, House Majority Leader Rep. Della Au Belatti stated her belief the state will one day have recreational cannabis, but only if legislators vet the issue carefully.
“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,’” she told the Associated Press.