The Drug Policy Action Group has conducted polls to see where Hawaii voters stand on marijuana legalization. The findings were presented at a January 10th Honolulu press conference.
Barbara Ankersmit, president of QMark Research, shared the results of a statewide poll of Hawaii voters’ attitudes toward marijuana laws.
QMark found that 57% of Hawaii voters favored legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. This shows a 20% jump in approval for legalization over poll results from 2005.
Additionally, 78% of those polled supported a dispensary system for medical marijuana and 69% said that they think it is inappropriate for people to do jail time for marijuana offenses.
In addition, Pamela Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, presented highlights from a new report on the potential economic impacts of marijuana legalization authored by David Nixon, Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii College of Social Sciences Public Policy Center.
Nixon and his colleagues found that Hawaii had seen a drastic increase in marijuana related arrests since 2004. In the past 8 years, possession arrests have increased almost 50% and distribution arrests have almost doubled.
The groups most greatly impacted by marijuana prohibition in Hawaii are males under the age of 25 and people of Native Hawaiian descent.
Nixon also found that decriminalizing marijuana could not only save the state millions of dollars annually, but also bring a booming new industry. Nixon estimates that $9 million could be saved each year in Hawaii by decriminalizing marijuana, while they could also earn an additional $11 million annually by legalizing, taxing, and selling marijuana.
After presenting Nixon’s findings, Lichty said, “It’s clear that Hawaii voters are open to reconsidering local marijuana laws. The date in both of these reports will help our communities craft more effective, less costly approaches for the future. The Drug Policy Action Group, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and our allies will advocate for the policy reforms that people in Hawaii want.
The Drug Policy Action Group was founded in 2004 and works to advocate for effective, non-punitive drug policies that minimize economic, social, and human costs and to encourage pragmatic approaches based on science and concern for human dignity.