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Follow the money: Hawaii wants to ban vaping & legalize marijuana at the same time

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When did Hawaii become so controversial, and why are they introducing two new bills that seemingly contradict one another? Last week, two Democratic state senators by the names of Ronald Kouchi and William Espero introduced SB 1055 which will immediately and unequivocally ban all vaping sales in the state upon approval.

Less than a week earlier, HB 205 was introduced which, if passed by both houses of state congress, will make recreational marijuana legal for people over 21. Medical marijuana is already legal, which we fully support and applaud. By why the double-standard?

Hawaii Bill SB 1055 states,

“Sale of certain electronic smoking devices prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person or business to sell, offer for sale, or introduce into commerce in the State an electronic smoking device that contains nicotine."

Not only would electronic cigarettes containing nicotine enhanced e-liquids be banned from public purchase, but presumable all individually-purchased e-liquids would be banned, as well. Hawaiian vapers would have no forewarning. The law would be immediately implemented with approval by the Hawaiian Congress and a signature by Governor David Ige.

HB 205 and SB 1055

But if vaping is as bad as they say it is, why on earth would lawmakers introduce other legislation that seemingly identifies smoking marijuana as a healthier alternative? The reasons may be as old as the hills. It’s all about the money!

A portion of HB 205 for the legalization of marijuana reads,

“The legislature further finds that allowing personal use of a limited quantity of marijuana by persons who are twenty-one years of age or older, and taxing marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, would ease the current strain on law enforcement resources, as well as provide an additional revenue source.”

Therein lies the rub. Hawaii has no official sales tax. The state only has a 4 percent excise tax. By comparison to a state like Tennessee that has a nearly 10 percent sales tax, this means that Hawaii makes very little tax revenue from the purchase of e-cigs and vaping products.

However, if HB 1055 becomes law, then marijuana products can be taxed at the uber-high rates of those reserved for Big Tobacco. And Hawaii charges the fifth highest cigarette taxes of all 50 states at approximately $3.20 per pack. If you are wondering why Hawaii wants to ban vaping while simultaneously legalizing marijuana, all you have to do is…follow the money!

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