State Lawmakers to Hold Hearing Friday on Bill to Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol in Hawaii

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Photo courtesy of Reason

Report from the Marijuana Policy Project – The Hawaii House Committee on Judiciary will convene Friday to hear testimony on the bill introduced by House Speaker Joseph Souki (D-8) to regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The hearing on H.B. 699 is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. HST in House conference room 325.

In summary, H.B. 699:

  • removes criminal penalties for the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and for the home-growing of up to five marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space;
  • establishes a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities;
  • enacts an excise tax of up to 15 percent on the wholesale sale of marijuana applied at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store or product manufacturer (sales tax will also be applied at the point of retail sales); and
  • requires the department of taxation to establish rules regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements, as well as rules governing how best to prevent diversion of marijuana to those under 21.

The initiative does not change existing laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana or the ability of employers to maintain their current employment policies. It also preserves the rights and responsibilities of patients and caregivers under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law.

“Most Hawaii voters recognize that marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective and problematic as alcohol prohibition,” said Pam Lichty, president of the Honolulu-based Drug Policy Action Group. “By regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol, our state can control its production and sale, generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue and savings, and allow law enforcement officials to focus on serious crimes.”

A QMark Research poll released earlier this month found 57% of Hawaii voters believe marijuana should be regulated, taxed, and legal for adults. According to an economic analysis performed by University of Hawaii economist David Nixon, the state would generate $20 million per year in new tax revenue and criminal justice savings.

H.B. 699 is modeled after the Colorado ballot initiative voters approved in November, and it is similar to the measure adopted by voters in Washington state. Private adult marijuana possession is now officially legal for adults under state and local laws in both states, and their respective legislatures are in the process ofestablishing a system of regulated marijuana cultivation and retail sales. Similar proposals are expected to be introduced this year by lawmakers in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

“Voters and elected officials nationwide are fed up with laws that criminalize adults simply for using a product that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Prohibition has failed, and it is time for a more sensible approach to marijuana. H.B. 699 proposes just that.”

The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana-policy-reform organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit





  1. We keep hearing about "legalizing marijuana for recreational use", but what it really appears to be is an attempt to legalize marijuana as a far safer alternative to alcohol.

    According to the CDC, alcohol kills 80,000 people every year in the U.S. while marijuana kills none, and marijuana's addiction potential is about on par with coffee.

    Since marijuana is unquestionably milder, safer and less addictive than alcohol, we could GREATLY reduce the amount of harm and addiction in society by giving people the right to switch from the more harmful drug, alcohol, to the less harmful drug, marijuana.

  2. Law enforcement needs to re-direct its focus on crime…to those that are REAL crimes.

    I was in Federal Prison for 5 years for a marijuana offense. No, it was not for simple possession. I was arrested aboard a Lockheed PV2 in Marianna, Florida…charged and convicted for conspiracy to import and distribute 12,000 pounds of marijuana.

    As those 5 years rolled by, what I did see were armed bank robbers, coming and going…while I still sat there for marijuana. Most of the bank robbers only spent 17 to 24 months. But, I and my fellow 'drug offenders,'…we stayed for YEARS.

    I wrote about the escapades that led to my incarceration.
    I admit, I had a great time.
    No one was injured, no one was killed, firearms were not involved…there were no victims.

    We were Americans…doing what Americans do best…living free.

    My book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank
    I think you may enjoy it.

  3. Several years ago, I had surgery on my right shoulder. Pain medication was prescribed…”take one capsule every 4 hours.”

    I took one capsule.
    I was down for over 20 hours. When I came to, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The next time I felt discomfort, I smoked a small amount of marijuana …pain gone, no after effect.

    I threw the pills out.

    That was the only prescription medication I have taken in the past 30 years. That one pill made me feel worse, both physically and mentally than anything I think I have ever encountered.

    It's very easy to see why 'big pharma' is one of the biggest enemies of legalized cannabis.

  4. Adults breaking a federal law. Adults wanting to add another drug for people who aren't sick when they cannot control the one that is already out there killing people, destroying families. Would you exchange one for the other? Would you pass a law making alcohol illegal and really truly put the folk away that kill people while driving drunk? Will you really make absolutely certain that kids aren't getting alcohol from adults by passing and following tough laws when adults are caught? No and you won't care when the kids, whose brains aren't completely formed, get hooked. Check out the latest studies in Amsterdam. Don't joke around, adults wanting cannabis legalized don't care about taxes, they care about getting stoned because they can't face normal life.

  5. High Flying too low ! yes pun intended. If you had a routine in place to fake out your prosecutors that you were mentally ill or disturbed, you would never have gone to jail at all! The ACLU would have sprung you out in a few days. You could have been back on the street like all the other nutcases that the police arrest and send to jail, only to be put back out on the street again a week later! Cops are sick of arresting the same mental nutcases over and over again, they leave them alone after a while.

    Or you could have said "No habla Ingles" and they would have to let you go, because police cannot do the job of immigration enforcement by law. You've seen the Obama vs. Arizona spectacles, it proves my case.

    Plus, what do you think of Obama spending his days at Punahou stoned out of his mind every day? Why hasn't he come to the rescue of people like himself when he was a teenager?

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