Hawaii Marijuana Legalization Bill Dies

A bill that would have legalized marijuana died in the state legislature Tuesday. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Karl Rhoads told the Associated Press he decided to kill it after a head count found the bill would come up short in the House.

The measure, House Bill 669, would have allowed people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce and grow an unspecified number of plants in a secure location. It would also have created a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. It was sponsored by House Speaker Joseph Souki (D-8), leading proponents to hope his support could help push it through the House, but that was not to be.

A public hearing last week saw now familiar arguments reprised. County police departments, the state attorney general and the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii told legislators marijuana was a dangerous drug and that the social costs of legalizing it would be too high, while supporters of the bill, including the ACLU of Hawaii said legalization would save the state money and respect Hawaiians' freedom of choice. They also argued that pot prohibition disproportionately impacts the state's minorities.

Pam Lichty of the Hawaii Drug Policy Action Group told the AP the group is disappointed but will continue to fight for marijuana reform, including improving the state's medical marijuana program.

Colorado and Washington freed the weed in November, and marijuana legalization bills have been or will be introduced this year in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

– Article originally from Stop the Drug War, used with permission.



  1. Anonymouse on

    Hawaii is a isolated and backward state, that is akin to living in a bible belt state like Texas. You can find a church on almost every other city block in Honolulu. The parks near Waikiki are filled with Christian services in the evenings. The state government is controlled by mostly conservative Christian Japanese Americans who regard cannabis as a problem drug used by subordinate social classes (Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan).

    I am not surprised that the legalization bill died. I hear about these cannabis reform bills as they come and go in Hawaii and laugh quietly to myself after living there for a few years. Hawaii has a medical marijuana law, but they do not allow dispensaries for safe access nor do they intend to allow them any time soon. I bet Hawaii will be one of the last states to legalize, probably after Texas legalizes cannabis.

    Christian conservatism in the Hawaii state legislature:


  2. Anonymous UK on

    All these measures will fail until there is some kind of confirmation about how the federal government will treat Washington and Colorado. Maybe that is the reason for a delay in their decisions – to kill any follow on measures in other states. It will not kill the movement but it does present a set back. Public opinion is still in favour or legalisation in most states but it is understandable that elected officials are holding back until they know what they are getting into. The fight must proceed at the federal government level until the states actually have the freedom to determine their own rules on this issue.

  3. CanadianGiant on

    I wanted to move to Hawaii. Free Roger Christie(Hawaii activist), and Marc Emery.