Hawaii House dooms adult-use cannabis legalization again

Just Released! Get realistic market forecasts, state-by-state insights and benchmarks with the new 2024 MJBiz Factbook member program, now with quarterly updates. Make informed decisions.

Despite growing optimism that Hawaii would launch an adult-use cannabis market this year, hopes vanished this week when House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita declined to hold a vote on the legalization bill.

Legislative priorities shifted to meeting response and recovery demands in the wake of the deadly Maui fires in August and away from Senate Bill 3335, which would have allowed recreational marijuana sales and personal cultivation.

“Ensuring the recovery of our communities continues to come at an extraordinary cost to the state budget, and the full cost of implementing the legalization of adult-use cannabis is unknown,” Yamashita said in a statement to the Star-Advertiser in Honolulu.

Marijuana reform again failed to progress through Hawaii’s more conservative House, where legalization efforts have been thwarted the past few years.

Even backing from the state’s attorney general and Democratic Gov. Josh Green were not enough to sway lawmakers.

Some House members sided with law enforcement and their concerns regarding child safety, the economy and overall health of residents – tropes often levied by legalization opponents.

Hawaii’s Senate last month overwhelmingly approved SB 3335, which would have also created a new regulatory agency and social equity program, Honolulu Civil Beat reported.

“While we are certainly grateful for the immense support and efforts of the Governor, Attorney General, Senate and the majority of House members, it’s disappointing that the bill didn’t pass,” Jaclyn Moore, CEO and co-founder of Big Island Grown, a vertically integrated operator, told MJBizDaily via email.

“The good news is that there is growing momentum for the bill’s passage and we are optimistic that adult cannabis use will become law next year.”

In another bit of good news for Hawaii’s medical marijuana market, the governor last week approved the sale of pre-rolls in MMJ dispensaries, Hawaii News Now reported.