On Friday, Hawaii House Speaker Joseph Souki introduced House Bill 150, a bill to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by individuals age 21 and older. The bill would also create a system of taxed and regulated marijuana distribution for the state. Souki would also let people grow a yet unspecified number of plants at their homes.
Souki closely mirrored the structure and regulations of Colorado’s Amendment 64, knowing that it was passed by voters once and would likely include enough regulations to appease skeptics.
The bill passed its first reading but has yet to be sent to a committee. The 2013 legislative session begins on Tuesday.
Mason Tvert, who was instrumental in the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado, is working to get Speaker Souki’s legalization bill passed along with the Marijuana Policy Project. Tvert said, “Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol takes marijuana sales out of the hands of criminals and puts them behind the counter in legitimate businesses that will generate significant revenue for Hawaii.”
The introduction of the bill comes shortly after new reports revealed that 57% of Hawaii voters approve of marijuana legalization. That is a higher majority of support than either Washington or Colorado garnered for legalization after months of campaigning.
Hawaii now joins a number of states wherein lawmakers are introducing marijuana legalization bills. Other states moving toward legalization include New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Idaho.