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Hawaii Attorney General Proposes Plan to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Attorney General Anne Lopez proposes a comprehensive strategy to establish Hawaii’s recreational cannabis market.




In a significant step for recreational marijuana use in Hawaii, Attorney General Anne Lopez has introduced a detailed plan aiming to overcome longstanding legalization barriers. The proposal seeks to establish a retail recreational marijuana industry while safeguarding existing medical cannabis dispensaries.

House Judiciary Chair David Tarnas praised Lopez’s comprehensive approach, acknowledging her effective consolidation of diverse inputs into the proposed bill, reported Hawaii News Now. This shift marks a departure from the Attorney General’s office’s previous opposition or skepticism towards legalization, focusing on public safety and legal conflicts.

Lopez’s 294-page proposal outlines a 10% tax surcharge on adult-use marijuana, in addition to the existing 4.25% excise tax. It also presents a pathway for illegal growers to enter the legal market, enhancing law enforcement and health education to safeguard youth.

State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, chair of Consumer Protection, lauded the plan as the most refined version to date, addressing numerous previously raised concerns. The strategy mirrors Massachusetts’ social equity program, providing support and grants to help illegal growers transition to regulated retail operations.

Lopez emphasized the importance of integrating illegal marijuana growers and sellers into the legal market. Non-compliant dealers risk enforcement by a specialized 14-member law enforcement unit.

The proposal includes the formation of the Hawaii Cannabis Authority to regulate businesses, alongside dedicated staff for product testing, enforcement, social equity, and health education programs. To favor dispensaries, medical cannabis products would be exempt from the new tax and likely first to sell recreational marijuana due to existing licensing.


Lopez suggests initiating sales 18 months post-legislation enactment, a timeline deemed reasonable by lawmakers. Despite potential delays due to the Maui wildfire disaster and budgetary challenges, Keohokalole and Tarnas express optimism for legislative approval in the upcoming session starting in January.




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