HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana is moving forward at the state Legislature.
On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to support the measure. It’s now headed to at least two more committees.
The proposal would allow existing medical cannabis dispensaries to sell marijuana to people over 21 years old with a 15 percent excise tax added to the price going to state coffers.
Thirty percent of the tax collections would be dedicated to public education about the dangers of under-aged marijuana use and driving while high.
The measure would also end all criminal penalties for possession of 1/2 ounce or less of marijuana, but possessing more than 1/2 ounce, in public or private, would remain illegal.
Smoking legal marijuana would be controlled by the same rules as those for tobacco products.
The system would be regulated by the Department of Health because the department is already regulating the medical cannabis system.
If approved by the full state Legislature and the governor, recreational cannabis sales could begin as early as February 2021.
Law enforcement, including local police and prosecutors, have warned lawmakers that allowing recreational use will likely increase accidents involving marijuana intoxication and make it easier for minors to become users.