Hawaii is the third largest market for ivory in the United States, much of which is believed to be illegal.
And activists warn the situation could worsen if the state doesn't do more to deter sales.
"A lot rides on the line of what Hawaii is prepared to do," said Rosemary Alles, co-founder of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos.
The group is among several pushing state lawmakers to ban the sale of all ivory.
New York and California are the first- and second-largest ivory markets, respectively. And both of those states recently passed laws to stop the trade of ivory. "The trade is very likely to migrate here and Hawaii could essentially become the top market," Alles warned.
The mass slaughter of elephants isn't the only concern. Alles says the poaching crisis is sponsored by militia in Africa and elsewhere that support terrorism. A pound of ivory can sell for between $1,000 and $2,000.
"Groups like the Lord's Resistance Army relies on poaching and garnering of elephant tusks, ivory horn which are then traded for weapons," Alles said.
State Rep. Karl Rhoads, who has supported banning ivory in the past, said he's optimistic the Legislature will approve a measure this session.
He said the ban would apply to all ivory, even items that are allowed under federal law.
"Basically what it would do is require that if you have ivory now we would grandfather all of that in. we don't ask you where you got it," he said. "You have to have it registered and anything you sell you would have to prove where it came from.
A similar measure failed in the last legislative session.
Under current law, African elephant ivory that's at least 100 years old or that was imported in 1990 or earlier can be sold in the islands. The problem is that dating ivory is difficult. Documents can be forged to claim ivory being sold complies with the law.
One group estimated that as much as 85 percent of ivory sold in the islands is illegal or of unknown origin.