Hawaiʻi Poll Shows Support for Marijuana Decriminalization

January 31, 2014, 1:44 PM HST · Updated January 31, 3:38 PM
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Hawai’i Island police dismantled an underground bunker marijuana-growing operation in Puna and arrested two individuals at the Glenwood home after serving a search warrant on Thursday. Police described the building as a sophisticated operation measuring 40 by 80 feet, and containing more than 500 marijuana plants. Photo courtesy Hawaii Police Department.

Hawai’i Island police dismantled an underground bunker marijuana-growing operation in Puna and arrested two individuals at the Glenwood home after serving a search warrant in March 2013. Police described the building as a sophisticated operation measuring 40 by 80 feet, and containing more than 500 marijuana plants. File photo courtesy Hawaiʻi Police Department.

By Wendy Osher

A new Hawaiʻi opinion poll shows an increasing majority favors medical dispensaries, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana.

The poll, commissioned by Hawaiʻi’s Drug Policy Action Group, and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi, looks specifically at issues surrounding marijuana law reform in the state.

The statewide poll conducted by QMark Research, included responses from 400 Hawaiʻi voters between Jan. 17 and 23, 2014.

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The ACLU released the following poll findings:

  • 77% of Hawaiʻi voters think jail time is inappropriate for marijuana possession, up 8% from 2012.
  • 66% of Hawaiʻi voters are in favor of outright legalization for adult use, up 9% from 2012.
  • 85% of Hawaiʻi voters continue to support Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, up 4% from 2012.
  • 85% of Hawaiʻi voters support a dispensary system so patients do not need to use the black market to find their medication, up 7% from 2012.

Discussion on laws relating to marijuana reform has already surfaced as part of the legislative discussion at the State Capitol.

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

Also at the Capitol, Representative Rida Cabanilla of Ewa Beach introduced a bill aimed at developing a plan for the cultivation and export of marijuana in Hawaiʻi for sale in foreign jurisdictions where usage is legal.

Pamela Lichty, president of the Drug Policy Action Group issued a statement saying, “Voters today want reasonable, modern policies that acknowledge marijuana’s value as a medicine, and which address public health and safety, but do not overstate marijuana’s risks as a recreational drug.”

Lichty said she is hopeful Hawaiʻi will establish “sensibly controlled dispensaries” to ensure safe access to medicine for patients.

In a press release statement, ACLU executive director Vanessa Chong said, “Hawaiʻi is ready to choose incremental, sensible policies like decriminalization over extremely harsh ones that add to the nationwide glut of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

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