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Poll: Voters open to legalize, tax, regulate marijuana

MEDIA RELEASE

With many states decriminalizing and even legalizing marijuana, where does Hawaii stand?

Two new reports commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group (“DPAG”) sought to answer this question, and the latest findings were presented at a Jan. 10 Honolulu press conference.

Barbara Ankersmit, president of QMark Research shared the results of a statewide poll of Hawaii voters’ attitudes toward marijuana and marijuana laws.

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.

Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4, 2012.

Among its findings:

* 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

Independent U.H. economist David Nixon was commissioned to update a 2005 study on the state of marijuana law enforcement in Hawaii. He was asked to examine the costs of current law enforcement policies, and to predict the economic impacts if Hawaii were to decriminalize or legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

Among his findings:

* 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.

Lichty said: “From the survey findings, it’s clear that Hawaii voters are open to reconsidering local marijuana laws. 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.”

Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii added: “In Hawaii as across the nation, arrests for marijuana possession are one of the most common ways that individuals get caught up in the criminal justice system, at great social and economic cost. These studies provide important, updated facts for the Hawaii community as we consider new directions.”

The Drug Policy Action Group, founded in 2004, is a sister organization to the 20 year old Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. Its mission is 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.

— Find out more:
acluhi.org/stats_marijuana_haw…

One Response to “Poll: Voters open to legalize, tax, regulate marijuana”

  1. Malcolm Kyle says:

    Legally regulated (manufacture, distribution and consumption) of marijuana is coming to a state near you in 2013:

    CALIFORNIA

    “These laws just don’t make sense anymore. It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users… these are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people.”

    —Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (preparing the way for Governor Jerry Brown to initiate proceedings to legalize and regulate marijuana through the state legislature)

    MAINE

    Maine’s legislature is moving on a legalization-and-regulation bill that could bring the state $8 million a year in new revenue.

    ”The people are far ahead of the politicians on this. Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen the culture shift dramatically.”

    —Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, District 120 (Occupation: Public Relations Consultant)

    NEW YORK

    “Today, marijuana possession is the number one arrest in New York City.” citing the harmful outcomes of these arrests – racial disparities, stigma, fiscal waste, criminalization – and calling on the legislature to act: “It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now.”

    —New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

    NEVADA

    “Thinking we’re not going to have it is unrealistic. It’s just a question of how and when”

    —Assemblyman Richard (Tick) Segerblom of Las Vegas, elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2012

    OREGON

    “We have decades of evidence that says prohibition does not work and it’s counterproductive. it’s a matter of dollars and common sense. There’s a source of revenue that’s reasonable that is rational that is the right policy choice for our state. We are going to get there on legalization.”

    —Peter Buckley, co-chair of the Oregon state legislature’s budget committee.

    PENNSYLVANIA

    “Like alcohol, legalization and regulation will make marijuana safer. Each year we not only waste a similar amount ($325.36 million), we leave several hundred million dollars on the table in taxes that we do not collect because marijuana is illegal, rather than regulated and taxed. This horrific policy must end. It is a moral imperative that Pennsylvania wakes up and ends prohibition now.”

    —Democrat State Sen. Daylin Leach, while announcing plans to introduce legislation that would legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania.

    RHODE ISLAND

    Rhode Island is also expected to legally regulate marijuana through the state legislature instead of a popular referendum.

    ”Our prohibition has failed, Legalizing and taxing it, just as we did to alcohol, is the way to do it.”

    —Rep. Edith Ajello, chairs the House Committee on Judiciary and is a member of the House Oversight Committee.

    VERMONT

    In November 2012, the state’s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, cruised to re-election while strongly backing marijuana decriminalization. And the city of Burlington passed a resolution in November 2012 calling for an end to prohibition – with 70 percent support.

    ALASKA

    Most Alaskans already have a clear view of things from their own back garden. Personal use and possession of Marijuana in Alaskan homes has been effectively legal since 1975.

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