(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi State Senate has passed a bill to legalize and regulate the use of cannabis in the state.
On Tuesday, SB669 SD2 was passed by the Senate on third reading. The bill now goes to the Hawaiʻi State House for consideration.
SB 669 “establishes regulations for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, and personal use of small amounts of cannabis.” The bill also “decriminalizes and regulates small amounts of cannabis for personal use,” and establishes taxes for cannabis sales.
Two Hawaiʻi island senators spoke on the floor of the senate before Tuesday’s vote.
Senator Lorraine Inouye (D, District 1) stood in opposition, saying:
“The CDC has provided a lot of reasons to say ‘no’ to recreational marijuana, and here is one: people who are addicted to marijuana may also be at a higher risk of other negative consequences of using the drug, such as problems with attention, memory, and learning. Some people who are addicted need to smoke more and more marijuana to get the same high.
“It is also important to be aware that the amount of THC in marijuana, such as the marijuana potency or strength, has increased over the past few decades. The higher the THC content, the stronger the effects on the brain. In addition, some methods of using marijuana – dabbing or edibles – may deliver very high levels of THC to the user.
“Researchers do not yet know the full extent of the consequences when the body and the brain – especially the developing brain – are exposed to high concentrations of THC, or how recent increases in potency affect the risk of someone becoming addicted.
“I have received many oppositions in my district from my constituents, and I urge my colleagues to vote no on this measure.”
Senator Joy San Buenaventura (D, District 2) stood in strong support of the bill, saying:
“We were the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use. Yet we are one of the later states to legalize it for recreational use. This bill is a very small step. It decriminalizes a small amount. One ounce. Less than a quarter of what we are allowing for medical use.
“And not only that; we are allowing licensed dispensaries, which are over-regulated, if you listen to them. They actually have the more stringent standards than any of the other states. Our labs – the Department of Health Labs – inspect the cannabis for multiple toxins, for multiple pesticides, from the multiple molds, that other states do not inspect.
“So this bill is a very small step. It allows us to cut back on the illicit market by allowing free access for only one ounce of recreational use, and it allows for the dispensing of a safer form of marijuana for those who need to use it. And for those reasons I urge my colleagues to pass this Bill.”
The bill was passed with 22 “ayes”, and three “no” votes: Senators Brenton Awa (R), Lorraine Inouye (D), and Sharon Moriwaki (D).