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Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Hawaii Senate Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana Despite Ongoing Federal Prohibition
By Selected News Articles @ 6:41 PM :: 1416 Views :: Drugs

Hawaii Senate Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana Despite Ongoing Federal Prohibition

by Mike Maharrey, Tenth Amendment Center, Mar 6, 2024

HONOLULU, Hawaii (March 6, 2024) – Yesterday, the Hawaii Senate passed a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use, despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.

Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole and a bipartisan coalition of nine cosponsors filed Senate Bill 3335 (SB3335) on Jan. 24. The legislation would legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of cannabis concentrates for adults 21 and older. Adults could grow up to six plants per household and possess up to 10 ounces of resulting marijuana. The bill would also create a framework for licensed and regulated retail sales of marijuana. The Hawaii Hemp and Cannabis Authority would be established to license and regulate adult-use cannabis businesses, along with the state’s hemp industry.

On March 5, the Senate passed SB3335 by a 19-6 vote.

The bill currently includes an effective date of December 31, 2050 “to encourage further discussion,” which is common practice in Hawaii for bills that are likely to see further amendments.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

All this, of course, is illegal according to current federal law.

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains a complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

In 2000, Hawaii became the first state legislature to legalize medical marijuana, removing a layer of laws prohibiting cannabis even though federal prohibition remains in effect. The passage of SB3335 would remove another layer of enforcement laws. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana, and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. In 2021, New YorkNew MexicoVirginia, and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action, and Rhode Island legalized cannabis for adult use in 2022. Missouri and Maryland legalized marijuana in November 2022. The Delaware legislature legalized marijuana in 2023, and Ohio voters approved marijuana for adult use in the November election. Currently,  38 states allow cannabis for medical use, and 24 have legalized it for recreational use.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward. As Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin noted, “When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations, or mandates down our throats.”

WHAT’S NEXT

SB3335 will move to the House for further consideration. Once it receives a committee assignment, it will need to get a hearing and pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.

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