On Friday, a marijuana legalization bill failed in the Aloha State. The bill was introduced by J. Kalani English, a long time marijuana advocate. He has been attempting to pass recreational marijuana initiatives for fifteen years. This bill had looked promising since it made it further than all previous attempts. However, it was unable to gain approval from the two required committees. The Senate Health Committee essentially killed the bill by not scheduling a meeting.
The news is surprising considering Hawaii was part of the first group of states to pass laws for medical marijuana. Just four years after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, Hawaii followed suit. There are several reasons for Hawaii’s slow path to legalization. Marijuana laws cannot be passed via ballot initiative like other states can. They must go through the more tedious legislative process. There has to be enormous pressure from the public before the lawmakers feel confident enough to contradict federal law. In addition, politicians from the state claim they don’t want to risk threatening the existing medical marijuana program. I wouldn’t buy this explanation since many states have had no issues after legalizing for recreational use. Yet, Senator Roz Baker and many others, believe the government will possibly enforce federal law if they move beyond medical use.
Recreational marijuana will not be happening this year, but how long can lawmakers delay the inevitable? It could be many more years based on the fact it took 15 years to set up a system for medical dispensaries in the state. Even though the legislation was passed in the year 2000, regulation came just a few years ago. It seems like they really like to scope out what is going on in other states before making a move. It’s a smart move to monitor the outcomes of legal marijuana before rolling out the perfect plan. At some point, they need to agree on a bill and get users the protection they deserve. The kinks can be worked out during and after implementation. Simply modeling other successful programs is a great place to start
Just imagine the level of tourism the islands would expect with a recreational market. People are much less likely to bring their cannabis with them since they can only come by plane or boat. Very few places currently have tropical climates along with cannabis stores. Also, ordinary tourists that are on vacation for the weather are likely to spend money on cannabis since it’s legal and available. From an economic point of view, it will definitely boost the Hawaiian economy. Growers have been taking advantage of its premium cultivation conditions for years and it would be great to see it openly available to the public.
As things stand right now, the United States attorney general is Matthew Whittaker. He was appointed by President Trump after Jeff Sessions was asked to resign from his position last November. Barr was the chief of staff for Sessions at the time of his resignation, and is going to be used as a temporary replacement until a permanent candidate is selected. President Trump has made it relatively clear that his number one choice for that new position now is William Barr. He is very popular among republicans and doesn’t technically need a single vote from the democratic isle of the Senate to be confirmed, due to their majority. The marijuana industry is watching closely because it’s highly likely he will be the lead law enforcement officer in our country, and have a large impact on how federal marijuana laws will be enforced.
With a track record of not being very green friendly, its logical that he would take a very traditional approach to cannabis and try to enforce federal law on states that have successful and well established regulatory systems in place. Last week while testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr claimed he would not use any federal resources to interfere with states that have already decided to regulate cannabis. As long as businesses are complying with their individual state laws, he claims there will not be any interference. During Jeff Session’s time as attorney general, there was a ton of fear spreading throughout the industry because of his outdated approach to cannabis. Sessions went as far as rescinding the guidelines that were established by President Obama and designed to provide protections to businesses operating legally under state law. William Barr is not claiming to be pro cannabis in any sense though. He has admitted that personally he believes the drug should have remained in its illegal status. His stance is pretty confusing because he claims that Congress should figure out a way to stop state initiatives because he views them as “a backdoor nullification to federal laws”.
This guy does not seem like the ideal candidate by any means for those who are involved with cannabis. It definitely seems to be improvement from the direction the administration was heading with Sessions in charge. While that is not saying much, it seems that the momentum from cannabis reform has reached the point of no return despite his personal view of the plant. It isn’t fair to expect a pro cannabis view from anyone that Trump would want in charge of our country’s law enforcement. The Senate is expected to make their vote next month on whether or not to confirm him. It is predicted with a high degree of confidence that he will be confirmed as attorney general. I’m sure that this stance on states right’s will help insure he gains even more votes from the Senate.