2015-16 legsislatve session convenes; dozens of marijuana policy related bills introduced
Hawaii’s 2015-2016 legislative session has kicked off, and already over two dozen marijuana-related bills have been filed. Perhaps the most urgent changes necessary to Hawaii’s marijuana policies are allowing medical marijuana dispensaries and replacing the criminal possession penalty with a civil violation. Legislation has been filed that will accomplish both of these goals, so if you are a Hawaii resident, please email your lawmakers in Honolulu and urge them to pass these sensible reforms this year.
Over the summer, the Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force met several times to hear about the need for safe and reliable access to medical marijuana in Hawaii. Patients should not have to rely on their own gardening skills to obtain the medicine their doctor recommends.
While the patients agitate for safe, timely access to medical marijuana, the rest of Hawaii residents continue to face criminal penalties for simply possessing a substance safer than alcohol. Bills to replace criminal possession penalties with a civil violation have passed the Hawaii Senate in each of the last two sessions, but unfortunately they have not moved through the House.
Hawaiians support ending marijuana prohibition
A QMark Research poll, commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, found that 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana, 69% think that jail time for marijuana offenses is inappropriate, and an overwhelming 57% favor legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. This last number is 20% higher than the last poll conducted in 2005.
In addition to polling, an economic analysis was commissioned from University of Hawaii economist David Nixon. Dr. Nixon estimates that Hawaii could redirect $9 million annually if it stopped arresting individuals for marijuana possession. Additionally, Hawaii could generate tax revenues of up to $11 million annually if the state legalized, regulated, and taxed the sale of marijuana to adults.
Multiple bills have been filed that will end Hawaii's marijuana prohibition this session, giving legislators the opportunity to take a fiscally sound approach to marijuana policy in 2015. Please ask your legislators to support ending the costly and futile prohibition of marijuana.
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