Hawaii attorney general introduces adult-use cannabis legalization plan

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A promising new path to adult-use cannabis legalization is developing in Hawaii.

The state’s attorney general, Anne Lopez, has submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a framework for establishing a retail market for recreational marijuana, Hawaii News Now reported.

Lopez has previously opposed adult-use legalization, but her 294-page plan for a recreational marijuana market includes:

  • A 10% cannabis sales tax and a 4.25% excise tax.
  • Grants and other support mechanisms to transition legacy operators into the regulated market.
  • Establishing a regulatory agency to oversee the program, as well as enforcement, social equity provisions and product testing.

“The attorney general has done a really good job pulling together all of the different input and providing a comprehensive bill,” House Judiciary Chair David Tarnas told Hawaii News Now.

If the legislation is approved, Lopez wants to see adult-use retailers in operation within 18 months, Hawaii News Now reported.

Hawaii lawmakers for years have been reluctant to take any significant action to prop up the state’s medical marijuana industry or legalize adult use.

The state’s MMJ industry is small, with only eight licensed retail operators on four of its eight main islands.

MJBizDaily reported last month that a handful of medical cannabis companies in Hawaii have started selling and delivering wholesale flower and other marijuana products from one island to another, a first for the state and a rare sales route anywhere in the United States.

While inter-island cannabis commerce is being celebrated in some industry circles, it’s also a sign of an underlying issue in the Hawaii market – namely, product inventory shortages, which remain prevalent six years after MMJ sales began.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana market is restrictive – gummies, brownies and other edibles were allowed only last year.

Through the end of October, roughly 33,000 were registered MMJ patients, down about 2,000 registrants since July, according to state data.