Push of a new bill that would legalize marijuana in Hawaii

Published On: Jan 19 2013 12:17:00 AM HST

A new bill would expand the medical marijuana laws in the state to allow for recreational use.

HONOLULU -

There's a new push to legalize marijuana in Hawaii. A bill would expand the medical marijuana laws in the state to allow for recreational use.

The bill introduced on Friday would allow anyone 21 yearsold and older to possess an ounce of marijuana, and to cultivate a limited number of plants.

"We wanted to give it a hearing and see what the public says. We know that there will be strong public safety concerns brought up at the hearing," said Rep. Scott Saiki.

Saiki said the bill is modeled after the initiatives approved in Washington and Colorado that allow for recreational use of marijuana. The sale of the drug would be regulated and taxed, possibly generating $20 million annually to the state.

"I think anytime you can get revenue out of the source it's good for the state. You know as a business person that's how I think," said Ozzy Boyle, who supports the bill.

If passed, the bill would also allow the state to license marijuana retail stores. The owner of Hawaii's Natural High, Greg Azus, said he would expand his business.

"I'd like to get educated about it to be able to prescribe certain kind of marijuana or edibles for people depending on their ailments," said Azus.

Currently possessing an ounce of marijuana in Hawaii is considered a misdemeanor, and you could get one year in prison and up to a $2000 fine.

HPD released a statement recently saying, "The Honolulu Police Department is opposed to the legalization, decriminalization and medicinal use of marijuana."

The police department along with others said legalizing marijuana would increase the public's willingness to use the drug.

"If we allow it, I think kids at a younger age would have easier access to it. It's not a good thing," said Thelma Madali, who is against the bill.

If the bill is approved, marijuana still remains illegal under federal law, which bans all sale and possession of the drug.

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