Hawaii Opinion Poll: Voters Open to Legalizing Marijuana

LIGHTEN UP: Hawaii lawmakers may consider easing access to medical marijuana. Photo courtesy of Reason
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Photo courtesy of Reason

REPORT FROM THE ACLU – 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 January 10, 2013 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.


The text of both reports is published at:  https://acluhi.org/stats_marijuana_hawaii/ ‎

Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between November 19 and December 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 M annually in law enforcement costs.
·      By legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, Hawaii could conservatively add an additional estimated $11 M in yearly revenues.

Pam 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.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has been the state’s guardian of liberty since 1965, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties equally guaranteed to all by the Constitutions and laws of the United States and Hawaii.





  1. Estimates show that marijuana is America’s number one cash crop. However, marijuana remains untaxed. This is a new source of income for our nation, an income we desperately need.

    Over 500 of the nation’s top economic professors have shared their opinion in supporting the removal of prohibition and imposing the taxation and regulation of marijuana as a way to slow the federal deficit.

    Marijuana prohibition is costing America upwards of $20 billion annually. The hemp industry would not only create jobs, it would free up court time and jail space for real criminals among many other benefits. The list could go on.

    Sign the petition in the video description.

  2. ACLU HAwaii is pro-drugs. ACLU president president BArbara Ankersmit orders her own (!) research company Qmark to conduct a phone study with 600 residents.

    Qmark is a tiny company, mostly Ms Ankersmit herself. 600 residents from the ACLU calling lists are used with 100% predictable results.

    A UH Manoa lecturer in Public Policy is swiftly called 'economist' and out goes the RSS feeds with the dope propaganda.

    What a hog wash.

  3. i think that marijuana should be legalized.but i also think tha t it should not be taxed at all. if marijuana is legalized and taxed,the tax revenue will most probably be wasted by our local politicians on special interest groups and cronies.

  4. […] The Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii recently commissioned QMark Research to poll voter attitudes towards marijuana policy in Hawaii. The poll found that 78% support a dispensary […]

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