LIHU‘E — Two marijuana-decriminalization bills are advancing through the state Legislature that could have economic ramifications for Kaua‘i.
Senate bills 758 and 767 would do two things: legalize the personal use and possession of certain amounts of marijuana, and tax its sale.
SB 758 would increase the amount of marijuana a person can legally have in his or her possession from three grams to one ounce. SB 767 will require licensing to operate establishments, such as dispensaries, and require them to tax and package marijuana.
County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said he supports the bill.
“The revenue that could be generated by taxing cannabis is substantial,” Kollar said. “Wide bipartisan majorities in states all across the country support measures like these, and have shown they can be accomplished safely.”
Kollar didn’t specifically quantify how much in annual sales he projected the state and counties could generate.
California and Washington generate the most actual revenue before taxes selling legal marijuana. California generates $474 million worth of sales a year, and Washington generates $470 million annually.
Before the bills head to the chamber floor, there is still a process they must go through.
There will include a joint hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means committees before if approved the bills would move to Judiciary Committee.
Under the current law in Hawai’i, a person possessing over three grams can be charged with a petty misdemeanor.
This law will also modify the threshold for defendants who had previous marijuana convictions before the change occurred.
Citizens with previous marijuana convictions who were convicted of possessing marijuana that was under the new threshold of the bill would have their records expunged.
Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi, who lives in Lihu‘e and represents Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.