More than half of Hawaii residents believe it is time for the state to change its laws and legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, according to a new poll from a marijuana trade organization released this week.
The survey, released on Tuesday from the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association (HICIA), found that 52% in the Pacific island state are in favor of legalizing adult-use marijuana, compared with only 31% who said they are opposed.
Fifteen percent of Hawaii residents said they neither support nor oppose legalization.
“Reasons for support are varied, but tend to center on social and economic benefits, the belief that citizens should have the ability to choose what to do with their bodies, and the fact that cannabis is perceived to be safe, especially compared to prescription drugs. Reasons for opposition are equally varied, but focus on the perception that society may be harmed, the belief that cannabis itself is harmful (and a potential gateway to other drugs), and insistence that cannabis will be abused if legalized,” the pollsters wrote in their analysis.
“Political candidates are unlikely to be affected by support for recreational cannabis legislation, especially if their districts are comprised of sociopolitical groups that are more inclined to support legalization,” they continued. “Thirty percent of residents indicated they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported legalizing adult recreational use, compared to 26 percent who would be less likely to support a candidate who espoused that same view. Nearly 40 percent of residents, however, indicated that a candidate’s view on legalization doesn’t make much of a difference in their vote. A majority of residents believe regulations are important. Ninety-three percent of residents stated an age limit was either very important or somewhat important, 83 percent indicated limits on quantity purchased and prohibitions of use in public places was important, and 81 percent thought it was important that cannabis products were taxed. Slightly less importance was attached to limits on dispensary locations (72%) and number of dispensaries (67%).”
A Democratic lawmaker in Hawaii filed legislation last month to legalize recreational cannabis use in the state.
“We all know, and Hawaii’s people know, that it is high time to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults in Hawaii. This year we stand on the precipice of history,” state House Rep. Jeanné Kapela said at an event announcing the legislation last month.
“Following the recommendations of a task force devoted to addressing cannabis policy, we now have a roadmap for legalizing recreational cannabis in our islands,” Kapela added.
According to the poll that was released this week, “a larger proportion of residents believe legalization can produce positive social and economic outcomes compared to those who think legalization will produce negative outcomes.”
“For example, 54 percent of residents believe legalization would be good for the economy compared to 16 percent who believe it will be bad. Forty-five percent of residents believe legalization would produce significant tax revenue, compared to 36 percent who believe it would generate small tax revenue,” the pollsters wrote. “Forty-four percent believe it would reduce the burden on Hawaii’s criminal justice system while 38 percent believe it would not reduce the burden. From a social justice perspective, 42 percent believe legalization would help those groups who have historically been negatively impacted by cannabis laws; just 21 percent believe legalization would hurt those same groups. In terms of overall impact, 34 percent believe legalization of adult recreational use would be beneficial to the residents of the state, 23 percent believe it would be harmful, and the largest single group (37%) believe legalization would produce both benefit and harm.”