Public Supports Marijuana Legalization in Hawaii

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

By Tracy Ryan – In a joint press conference on Thursday, the Drug Policy Action Group, the ACLU of Hawaii, and Q Mark Research released polling data concerning the possible legalization of marijuana.

Significant findings included 81% support for medical marijuana with 78% supporting the establishment of a dispensary system to facilitate medical usage.


The poll takers asked about support for both decriminalization and legalization. They defined decriminalization as changing the current criminal laws to civil violations subject to fines.  They defined legalization as creating a regulated and taxed industry.  They asked first about decriminalization and found it supported by 58% and opposed by 36%.

Legalization was favored by 57% and opposed by 40%.  With a margin of error of about 4% it seems that people were simply saying yes to any reform that is offered as there was no significant difference between support for decriminalization and for legalization. Legalization without reference to taxes and regulations was not offered as an alternative by the poll takers.

Other questions showed strong support for either fines under decriminalization or for taxes under legalization to be earmarked towards the prevention of drug use, public education, and other popular ideas.  Since these questions were asked subsequently to the direct questions on decriminalization and legalization it would seem that poll respondents would support reform with or without the suggested earmarks.

Two other findings included 65% of poll respondents agreeing that the war on drugs was too costly and that the position of a legislator on marijuana legalization was a vote moving issue for about 55% of respondents. In this last case 33% of respondents indicated a greater likelihood of supporting a candidate who favored reforming marijuana laws while 22% would be more likely to oppose such a candidate.

A second report was shared concerning the budgetary effects of either decriminalization or legalization.  Obviously either change would reduce costs borne by law enforcement and allow more attention to other crimes.  Either fines collected under decriminalization or taxes under legalization would have some improvement on State finances.

The study bore this out. The report based on the study did not seem to address the larger economic questions of total value added to the economy, effect on employment, protection of agricultural lands, and other issues that with the limited data and many variables may be too inchoate to estimate.

No specifics related to legislation were put forward. Those who wish to view the poll and study may find more information at


Tracy Ryan is the head of the president of the Libertarian Party of Hawaii





  1. Yep, it's time to play catch-up!

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


    “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'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)


    "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


    "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.


    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.


    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.


    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

  2. 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.

  3. so how does one WITH a MM card get marijauna if they can't grow it and the law doesn't allow regulated distribution?

Comments are closed.