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Marijuana Legalization Bill Dies in Hawaii

Despite having the support of many prominent politicians in Hawaii including House Speaker Joe Souki (D), a bill to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21 recently died in committee. The bill was killed because it didn’t have majority support in the chamber. From the Honolulu Star Advertiser:

House judiciary committee Chairman Karl Rhoads said Tuesday that he decided to kill the bill after learning from House leadership that the initiative does not have enough votes to pass the House.

Key lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House supported the measure, including the speaker and the majority leader.

While this failure is disappointing. it is not totally unexpected. Building legislative support for a big change like this is normally a long multi-year effort and this was only the start. The fact that it had as many cosponsors as it did is an encouraging sign long-term.

I personally don’t expect any state legislature to move forward with full legalization for at least a few years. I suspect many of the politicians who might be open to supporting legalization will want to first see how the new laws in Washington State and Colorado work out before moving forward. That will would give them a chance to see how the federal government responds and address any regulatory issue that was overlooked. But Washington State won’t even begin really implementing its marijuana retail system until 2014.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at