Hawai‘i Cannabis Legalization Bill Dies

March 1, 2019, 12:57 PM HST (Updated March 1, 2019, 9:13 PM)

A cannabis legalization bill died when lawmakers didn’t consider it in time for a deadline on Friday, March 1, 2019.

According to an AP report, “the bill had to pass the Senate Health Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee by a Friday deadline so it could be considered by the full Senate. But the Health Committee did not schedule a meeting on Friday to consider any bills, effectively killing the marijuana legalization measure.”

Puna Rep. Joy San Buenaventura said she doesn’t think it makes sense to push the measure through without Gov. David Ige’s support.

“I also think that we have enough folks who are sitting around the table who are saying ‘Let’s do it right,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Della Au Bellati. “Let’s not just rush into things and let’s do it right.”


Twelve states and the District of Columbia have recreational marijuana laws. All except Vermont did it by ballot initiative, an option not available in Hawai‘i.

The Hawai‘i Legislature approved medical marijuana in 2000, four years after California did—it took Hawai‘i lawmakers 15 years later to set up a dispensary system.

“It’s a huge step … just to have that conversation started,” said Carl Bergquist, the executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i



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