Is Hawaii Gearing up for a Green Rush?

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Recently, both Oregon and Alaska activists announced that citizens in their respective states will be voting on full adult recreational cannabis legalization ballot initiatives this fall. It looks like another, much more tropical destination in the United States is considering the impact that cannabis legalization could have on the state. That’s right, Ladybud readers, Hawaii could soon be your new wake and bake vacation destination.

Although legalization has been an uphill battle within the state, many are increasingly optimistic that changes are coming soon. People have already picked apart previous failures at revising the state’s law, citing the influence of state law enforcement at the legislative level, conservative politicians in a liberal-leaning state, and a lack of political motivation to make changes.

An example of that conservative impact? The fact that after nearly 1.5 decades, the state medical marijuana program has yet to be amended or changed in any way is a clear indicator that there’s a disconnect in the process (thankfully the state’s program isn’t overly restrictive). There are at least 12,000 patients in the program, and to this day there is no legal way for patients to access medication at a retail level. Although there has been progress, medical marijuana dispensaries are still non-existent in the state.

This impact is compounded by the fact that Hawaiian law prevents citizens from changing state law with a ballot initiative. Instead, citizens must gather signatures and vote at a county level if changes to the law are desired. Anything state-wide must originate in the legislature itself, thus cutting average citizens out of the process. Other than New Mexico, Hawaii is the only state in the western United States that does not allow voter-driven ballot initiatives. Thankfully that issue, too, is under scrutiny and may soon change.

In the meantime, legalization bills are dying in the Hawaii legislature shortly after being introduced. Still, many see their introduction as a positive sign. Business interests are eying the west coast, dreaming of an influx of tropical destination tokers. According to an article published in the July issue of Hawaii Business, the impact on the state’s economy could be significant.

Would Hawaii experience a similar “Green Rush” in government revenue? David Nixon thinks so. In a 2012 study, the associate professor of public policy at UH-Manoa determined that legalizing cannabis could save the state $3 million a year in law enforcement and judicial costs and generate $11.3 million a year in new taxes. That study was done before recreational stores in Colorado opened and brought in more than projected. “I haven’t done the analysis for those numbers, but I think if we use their new numbers, then the likely projection for tax revenues here in Hawaii would be even higher,” he says.

Not only could tourism and tax revenues increase, there could be a major boom in the job market. Hawaii’s tropical environment lends itself perfectly to outdoor, low-input cannabis grows, and one can easily imagine sprawling fields of Maui Wowie growing across from all those pineapples.

What do you think? Will Hawaii be among the first 10 states to legalize adult recreational cannabis use? Let us know in the comments below!


Interested in reading more? See previous articles on Ladybud that talk about Hawaii by clicking here.


Photo Credit: tpsdave under public domain via Pixabay