By Wendy Osher
Voters in Hawai’i are open to the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana according to the results of an opinion poll commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group.
The findings of the poll, conducted by QMark Research, were revealed during a press conference today hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i.
The poll was taken between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4, 2012, and gauged voter attitudes toward marijuana and marijuana laws in Hawai’i.
Barbara Ankersmit, president of QMark Research shared the results of a statewide poll in which 600 Hawai’i voters were monitored.
Among its findings were the following:
- 78% support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.
- 69% think that jail time for marijuana offenses is inappropriate.
- 57% favor legalized, taxed and regulated marijuana, 20% higher than the last poll conducted in 2005.
Pamela Lichty, president of the Drug Policy Action Group, also 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.
According to the report, economists estimate that the state and counties stand to save and generate a combined estimate of $20 million per year through marijuana legalization.
The study effectively provided an update to a 2005 study on the state of marijuana law enforcement in Hawaii.
In the study, researchers examined the costs of current law enforcement policies, and the projected economic impacts if Hawai’i were to decriminalize or legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.
Among the findings were the following:
- Hawaii has seen a surge in marijuana arrests since 2004. Possession arrests have increased almost 50%, and distribution arrests have almost doubled.
- Hawaii’s marijuana laws overly impact males under the age of 25 and people of native Hawaiian descent. These groups were arrested in numbers disproportionate to their share of the population.
- By decriminalizing marijuana, Hawaii could redirect over $9 million annually in law enforcement costs.
- By legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, Hawaii could conservatively add an additional estimated $11 million in yearly revenues.
“From the survey findings, it’s clear that Hawai’i voters are open to reconsidering local marijuana laws,” said Lichty. “The data 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,” she said.