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Marijuana bills could bring money to Kaua‘i

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.

14 Comments
  1. Tooindependent February 24, 2021 7:52 am Reply

    It’s about time they wake up…


  2. LMat February 24, 2021 10:00 am Reply

    YES. This is much anticipated and much overdue. We talk about diversification and sustainability in Hawaii, but yet our leaders and lawmakers refuse to look at legal marijuana as a legitimate solution…

    The stigma and rhetoric that is attached to marijuana is what keeps Hawaii’s complacent and under-zealous leaders and lawmakers safe and secure in their opposition to something that could be transformative for our state. Other states have done it and they have succeeded. Hawaii is in dire need of an economic life raft, and this could be it.

    The times, they are a’changing!! Like it or not, Baby Boomers are dying off, being replaced by Gen X and Millennials (yuck). “Traditional” morals and conventional ideals that kept us from taking big forward steps are slowly being overshadowed by a demand for action.

    “Hawaii is not ready for legal marijuana” is a lazy and irresponsible response. We can lay the groundwork for safe, responsible, regulated and profitable legalization. We’re more ready now than we have ever been. I’d say we’re pretty desperate.


  3. Victor February 24, 2021 10:30 am Reply

    Let’s hope this is going to happen, because it’s crazy having to go pay a “Doctor” $250 for a prescription for something that won’t kill you. What a racket that is. When it comes to needing money they want to use pot heads to bail them out of their mess.


  4. Joe Public February 24, 2021 10:48 am Reply

    Kauai needs another prosecutor. A person just died on Xmas eve by a driver high on Maijuana (THC) and this guy supports recreational and to increase the amount?


    1. Stephen Johnson February 24, 2021 2:31 pm Reply

      Go drink a beer, or just go!


  5. Yeah February 24, 2021 11:06 am Reply

    Yeah until their friends and families are the only ones to monopolize the racket.


  6. Eric Greenfield February 24, 2021 11:38 am Reply

    How big is the market here really? How many shops can be sustainable?
    Would love to see the local shop get challenged their prices are criminal at best. It’s a solution only for a few. Be sure there will be nepotism and and back scratching involved. The opening overhead will be affordable to very few mainly the big cannabis corporations. Think about it for a second. I’m all for legalization.


  7. Eric Greenfield February 24, 2021 11:53 am Reply

    How many cannabis businesses can be sustained here. It’s too conservative here to be like Oregon or California. It won’t be just anyone allowed to open a business like that.


  8. Rev Dr Malama February 24, 2021 12:08 pm Reply

    Many Kupuna and those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems find the smoke and practice of marijuana use offensive.
    The blatant SMOKING of anything in public places such as parks and bus stops need enforcement.
    There’s a reason why it’s called pakalolo and reversing the detrimental factor to individuals using or subjected to 2nd hand smoke must be addressed….. or lawsuits will continue!


  9. Elkcims February 24, 2021 5:19 pm Reply

    Sad. MJ is a negative for brain development and retards motivation. This bill will increase availability, access, and be a net negative for IQs of kids and adults. It will also increase crime. But, hey, it will make you happy. It’s all about the money for the state. Pure and simple. Stop kidding yourselves.


    1. Bannanabis1 February 24, 2021 10:11 pm Reply

      As an actual “born HI” resident and having had the great pleasure of living elsewhere- most recently in AK- I was in on the newly enacted legalization up there. Super small town, Sitka- on a huge, mostly uninhabited island. So not exactly the same as Kauai but there are parallels… Legalization Works. It works for the greater good whether You know it or not. The range of people coming through the shop Did Not Discriminate. Young and Old, Professionals and all us lowly worker-bees- all stood in line and waited to hear the latest of the greatest AK Grown. Fresh! And tested with all the attributes available for further discussion. It’s a Science, actually! Cannabis a plant that we were Blessed with Since the Beginning Of Time. There’s so much more to this plant then anyone yet knows. It is a Medicine. It’s a funny thing that it’s so scary to some. But as any study will prove, cannabis isn’t the cause for the woes that plague, those are Man Made. Check your prescription and what you ingest every day- can you read the ingredients? Do you know your chemicals? We’re all entitled to our own opinion, this is mine. Stop wasting your energy on being afraid of what you don’t understand or can’t accept bcz you’re afraid someone won’t approve. The best medicine and remedies come from yo’ Mama, Mother Nature. So Malama Yo Mama.
      Ps- the rules and regulations that must be followed in order to even be considered to be a Pot Shop are OUT of this World. If only ALL businesses were made to jump through so many hoops- ha! Then you’d have something legitimate to be up in arms about.


  10. Screuda Public February 24, 2021 8:04 pm Reply

    I don’t agree with encouraging legalizing marijuana here. People will be smoking it all over the place. Users driving vehicles will be intoxicated with it…drivers beware! We are just dumbing down people for the almighty dollar profits. It should remain medically regulated. We are just too small to gain any real dollar profits of legalizing marijuana.


  11. Insider Perspective February 25, 2021 10:26 am Reply

    It’s sad to see the ignorance of old propaganda still prevailing for so many when endless new empirical evidence is available to disprove it. To that end, DUII and domestic violence have gone down in legal states. Underage use has not increased, black market sales have gone down, alcohol use has gone down (as big alcohol knew it would, which is why they have lobbied to keep it illegal, but now are buying in as they see it’s legalization is near federally), and revenues for state funds like schools are massive. The data in this article does not appear to be accurate with regards to sales amounts on the west coast as Oregon saw just over $1 billion in sales last year, and the other 2 were higher. I’ve personally owned one dispensary for over 5 years and another opened 18 months ago. We pay our staff well, have never had any theft or robbery issues, and we as owners have done very well, life changingly so. We’ve witnessed customers successfully treat cancer, anxiety, military vets treat PTSD and aggression issues, manage symptoms of MS to the point they have replaced many meds like their antinausea, sleep and cut back on pain meds, and on and on. The Israliels have years of clinical research now showing how amazing this plant is as medicine, and to date no one in the world has died from its use. Yes, people make poor decisions, but access to legal cannabis has not increased this and this has been proven. You can search any of the topics I stated above and you can easily find their sources. Hawaii appears to have a very controlled and potentially corrupt system that benifits very few. I would encourage you all to voice your desire for the state to not only pass a legalization bill, but to allow open and competitive markets like on the main land. You all should have a chance to create an edible, grow, or extraction company that you can sell to dispensaries, and the existing 8 dispensary license idea is absurd. They should place geographic limitations on dispensaries, not a lisc limit to create open market competition. Only then will the people of HI really benifit from legalization. I can tell you from living in a tourist town that sees an average of 20k visitors a day, and a population of 100k, that our town thrives on tourists and it supports over 26 dispensaries who all employ dozens of workers, and then the 100s of other licenses in the county who too employ hundreds of more people. You want to keep locals on island with living wage, supplement the tourist industry or even partially decouple from it while making tax money to fund your children and drug treatment for alcohol and other hard drugs? Call your senator and share these ideas. I have ZERO to gain personally, other than the joy of seeing the beautiful people of this island prosper. Good luck and Aloha!


  12. DSM February 27, 2021 10:19 am Reply

    The USA is not going to legalize cannabis on the federal level until around 2023-2024, and maybe not even then, depending on politics. And there’s too many medical risks for legalizing cannabis at federal level. People can die. The cannabis industry is largely not evidence based medicine. It’s a bunch of strains that end up in products that nobody really knows how they work. I mean, how can you take a medicine seriously when it’s called “Green crack” or “AC/DC”. It’s pathetic. A joke. Places like Juva life and GW pharm are the ones who matter.


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