The Hawai’i Senate on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, approved legislation that would make the Aloha state the 22nd in nation to legalize recreational cannabis (marihuana). SB 669 was approved by the Senate by a vote of 22-3. The legislation now heads to the state House of Representatives for review.
However, local media didn’t cover the victory. Largest publication, StarAdvertiser, is anti-cannabis reform and dominated by social conservatives. There was no story about the legislation success in Thursday’s edition. This report comes from Forbes.
“For years, advocates have been working to pass legislation to sensibly legalize cannabis in Hawai’i,” DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel at Marijuana Policy Project and a resident of Hawai’i, said in a statement from the cannabis policy reform group on Tuesday. “Now that this bill has advanced out of the Senate, Hawai’i is one step closer to becoming the next state to end cannabis prohibition.”
SB 669 legalizes the possession, transfer and transportation of up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of cannabis by adults aged 21 and older. The legislation also legalizes home cultivation of up to six cannabis plants, including not more than three mature, flowering plants. The bill also allow for the expungement of some marijuana-related convictions and reduces penalties for unlicensed cannabis cultivation and sales.
Democratic state Sen. Joy San Buenaventura is one sponsor of the legislation. She announced that the bill “allows us to cut back on the illicit market by allowing free access for only one ounce for recreational use, and it allows for the dispensing of a safer form of cannabis for those who need to use it for [medical] reasons.”
Doesn’t look good though. A similar proposal failed to gain approval two years ago. Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki has stated publicly that he wants to “wait and take a look at this over the summer and come back with a bill that’s comprehensive and addresses the concerns that are always raised about cannabis use in Hawai’i, including the federal restrictions and the law enforcement concerns.”
Speaker Saiki always wants to wait. He’s been stalling for nearly ten years now. Saiki signaled he will work to kill this legislation:
“Despite pronouncements from leadership of the bill being ‘dead on arrival,’ it was my understanding that the majority of representatives support it and want to see it advance. I’m hopeful that the bulk of the members of the House support it and want to continue to refine it and work on it.”Sen. Angus McKelvey
Hawai’i was poised to legalize recreational cannabis around 2015; the state legalized medical in 2000 — first state legislature to do so in the nation. California first legalized medical due to voter referendum.
Yet Hawai’i was scared away from their historic vote by Project SAM director, Kevin Sabet. Sabet warned state officials that the Japanese have strong anti-cannabis attitudes and legalization would likely hurt tourism businesses.
Sabet and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy founded SAM in 2013. They claim to oppose the current criminal policies, yet do not support legalization. They claim there is a third option: Smart About Marijuana. However, we’ve yet to hear their proposal. They simply block progress.
Project SAM reminds me of Republicans who oppose ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act). They promised to Repeal & Replace. For years, they have fought to repeal ACA. Still today, they’ve offered no acceptable option to replace.
Project SAM, along with Speaker Saiki, want to wait … and wait … and wait. Listen folks, there are two options: keep the criminal policy framework or legalize. Hawai’i attempted a third option — decriminalization of cannabis up to 3 grams beginning in 2019. Sounds good, right?
Wrong! This policy is the worst option. It’s like being half-pregnant. What’s the message to kids? a little bit is okay? Don’t worry. You can use. If you get caught, it’s like getting a traffic ticket for speeding. No big deal.
Cannabis, like alcohol, is an adult recreational drug. We want to keep children and teens from using these powerful substances until their brain and body has matured. We want to teach responsible use; not support criminal elements in our ‘ohana.
As I asked Governor Dave Ige in 2019, who refused to sign the decriminalization legislation, “You seriously prefer to put an adult cannabis user in prison?” Dude, you’re a cruel motherf*cker !!!
Dave and friends likely have beers, a glass of wine or cocktails on occasion. Adults enjoy socializing and relaxing. They might enjoy a cigar; vape nicotine. Yet use cannabis — off with their head! This prohibition began with racist intentions — to block Black and Brown immigrants from coming to American in the 1930s. Time to end this inhumane policy.
The USA criminalized alcohol between 1920 and 1933. Was a disaster. Criminalization of cannabis has led to explosive growth in drug cartels that now traffic fentanyl, opioids, meth, as well as human beings. Cannabis prohibition didn’t stop cannabis use — it created a WAR in America.
Legalization is the Better Option
Progressives have sought to legalize for one key reason: regulated markets better protect kids and teens. A criminal drug dealer will sell to anyone. A legal business owner will not. The legal business has too much to lose. They have invested millions; they can go to prison. Not worth the risk. The criminal lives to take illegal risks.
The CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey examining trends between 2011 and 2021 shows significant drop in alcohol, cannabis (marihuana) and illicit drug use by teens in the past 30 days. This news is excellent. We are moving in the right direction.
Less than 20 percent of young boys and girls are using cannabis. Boys displayed a 46 percent drop in illicit use between 2021 and 2011; girls has a significantly lesser drop (10%). Girls are still consuming too much alcohol. Use of alcohol by boys dropped 51 percent. Across the board, boys are reporting less use of substances than girls.
The biggest fear expressed by opponents of cannabis legalization is that kids will be encouraged to use more often. Colorado was first to legalize cannabis in 2012. The trend is clear: legalization is part of the reason under-age experimentation is dropping. We have a united message today to deter our youngsters: these are complex substances and for adult-use only.
Encourage Speaker Saiki to Join the Majority
Scott Saiki has been told all his life that cannabis is bad. As we understand, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Progressive people know extremists lied about the dangers of cannabis. Like alcohol, cannabis presents risks to the user and society.
Nobody wants a person to drink alcohol or consume cannabis and get behind the wheel; nobody wants kids drinking alcohol or smoking pakalolo. We’re united in our position. Adult responsible use is acceptable.
You can email Speaker Saiki at: email@example.com
Phone: 808-586-6100; Fax: 808-586-6101
Since the majority of American society tolerates alcohol and supports cannabis legalization, who is Scott Saiki to dictate to responsible adults how to relax after a long day at work or enjoy socializing with friends on the weekend? Should 3,858 voters dictate to over 1.4 MILLION residents?
Scott’s position is extreme. And, extremism is dividing our nation today. We must listen to the majority. Most of us are sick & tired of the extremists in both parties hijacking our democratic Republic.
For example, Senate minority leader Republican Mitch McConnell blocks cannabis legalization on the national stage. He’s from Kentucky. He champions Kentucky bourbon and Kentucky tobacco, and blocks cannabis. Imagine that!
In Hawai’i, Scott Saiki champions Japanese interests — not American. And, frankly, that is un-American. The Japanese were cannabis friendly until post-WWII. It was U.S. political influence after the war that soured their society on cannabis.
At this time, Gallup research shows Americans of all political ideology support legalization of cannabis (marihuana): Republicans by a slight majority; Democrats and Independents by strong majorities.
The violence in Mexico is spiraling out of control for one main reason: illegal drugs. The USA began this war on drugs in Colombia and the violence has migrated now to our southern border. Drug cartels have increased the lethality of weapons in our nation — putting law enforcement and citizens at significant risk. The prohibition of alcohol had the same effect.
Speaker Saiki, please think of the children and our families. Legal, regulated markets are easier to control. We can better protect our keiki; we can keep violence from our ‘ohana. The prohibition of cannabis has increased violence on our streets and increased the volume of illicit drugs in our community.
We are a FREE society. Prohibition rarely works. Legalize and regulate. Let’s teach adults how to use recreational substances responsibly.
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