Speaker Souki Voices Support for Marijuana Dispensaries

January 15, 2014, 11:20 AM HST · Updated January 15, 11:23 AM
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State Rep. Joe Souki. File photo by Wendy Osher.

House Speaker Rep. Joe Souki of Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

House Speaker Joseph Souki of Maui called on his fellow lawmakers to look at creating a system of dispensaries where those in need can legally buy marijuana for medical purposes when prescribed by a doctor.

“Although the State legalized medical marijuana and the cultivation of a limited amount, there is no legal way to purchase either the seeds or starter plants for cultivation or to legally purchase marijuana in the Islands,” according to information released by the state House.

Representative Souki also called on his fellow lawmakers to remove the cap placed on the Transient Accommodations Tax allocated to the counties.

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The remarks were made on opening day of the 27th Legislature in Hawaiʻi.

Representative Souki said that by removing the TAT cap, it would allow the counties to better support the state’s tourism industry.

“They are the ones who maintain our roads and parks and provide the law enforcement officers and first responders who directly serve our visitors as well as our kamaʻāina,” said Rep. Souki in a press release statement.

“I believe the gesture is not only long overdue, but should be viewed as a better long-term investment in our counties and in our number one industry,” he said.

In addition, Rep. Souki said he would like the state to study ways to collect sales taxes that are generated by out-of-state online companies as a way to compensate for a loss in state revenues.

“Every day, they compete toe-to-toe with local companies on a playing field that is clearly tilted in their favor,” said Rep. Souki.

“It’s time we level the playing field.  We should also consider joining other states who have banded together to look at this issue for a collective solution, as well as consult with our congressional delegation on actions being considered at the federal level,” he said.

Rep. Souki is also asking that a law that increased Hawaiʻi’s personal income taxes in recent years during a budget shortfall, be allowed to sunset when it ends in 2015.

Other legislation that Rep. Souki raised for consideration include: legislation that looks at long-term care needs facing families with elderly members; and laws to better address climate change and invasive species.

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