Poll: Majority Support Legalization in Hawaii

According to a new poll by a marijuana trade organization released this week, more than half of Hawaiians believe it’s time the state changed its laws and legalized recreational cannabis use for adults.

The poll released Tuesday by the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association (HICIA) found that 52% in the Pacific island nation support the legalization of adult-use marijuana, compared to just 31% who opposed it.

Fifteen percent of Hawaii residents said they neither support nor oppose legalization.

“The reasons for support are varied, but typically focus on social and economic benefits, the belief that citizens should have the ability to choose what they do with their bodies, and the fact that cannabis is considered safe viewed, especially when compared to prescription drugs. The reasons for rejection are just as varied, but focus on the perception that society could be harmed, the belief that cannabis itself is harmful (and a potential gateway to other drugs), and an insistence that cannabis is misused , if it is legalized,” the pollsters wrote their analysis.

“Political candidates are unlikely to be affected by support for recreational cannabis legislation, especially if their constituencies are made up of socio-political groups that are more inclined to support legalization,” they continued. “Thirty percent of residents said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports the legalization of adult recreational use, compared to 26 percent who are less likely to support a candidate who takes the same view. However, nearly 40 percent of residents said a candidate’s opinion on legalization doesn’t make much of a difference in their vote. A majority of residents consider regulations to be important. Ninety-three percent of residents said an age limit was either very important or fairly important, 83 percent said limits on purchase quantities and bans on use in public places were important, and 81 percent said it was important for cannabis products to be taxed. Slightly less importance was attached to the limitation of pharmacy locations (72%) and the number of pharmacies (67%).

A Democratic lawmaker in Hawaii last month introduced legislation to legalize recreational cannabis use in the state.

“We all know, and the people of Hawaii know, that it is high time adult recreational cannabis use was legalized in Hawaii. This year we stand on the precipice of history,” House Representative Jeanné Kapela said last month at an event announcing the legislation.

“Following the recommendations of a task force looking at cannabis policy, we now have a roadmap for legalizing recreational cannabis on our islands,” added Kapela.

According to the poll released this week, “a larger proportion of residents believe that legalization can lead to positive social and economic outcomes than those who believe that legalization will lead to 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. 45 percent of residents believe legalization would result in significant tax revenue, compared to 36 percent who believe it would result in 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. From a social justice perspective, 42 percent believe legalization would help those groups negatively impacted by cannabis laws in the past; only 21 percent believe that legalization would harm the same groups. In terms of overall impact, 34 percent believe legalizing adult recreational use would be beneficial to state residents, 23 percent believe it would be harmful, and the largest single group (37%) believe legalization would both benefit and would also cause harm. ”

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