Hawaii Cannabis Expo will be conducting a Panel Discussion hosted by Hawaii Alliance for Cannabis Reform on February 2 – 4, 2024 at the Blaisdell.
HACR is comprised of nonprofits and community organizations that recognize prohibition has failed, and it’s time for a more sensible approach.
Why Legalize and Regulate?
Although Hawai‘i was the first state to adopt a medical marijuana program through the legislature in 2000, it continues to arrest thousands of people each year for cannabis offenses over 20 years later. In fact, under current law possession of over three grams is punishable with up to 30 days in jail despite the fact that legalization has widespread in Hawaii.
According Civiqs research, over 70% of Hawai‘i residents support legalizing cannabis use for adults. Now that 24 states have passed laws to legalize and regulate cannabis for individuals over 21, including are every state along the western seaboard —along with the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Nevada — it’s time that Hawaii follow suit.
Marijuana prohibition entails direct enforcement costs — including police, prosecutorial, judicial, and correctional resources — and prevents the taxation of marijuana production and sale. Marijuana legalization, on the other hand, offers tremendous financial benefits for state governments, and the revenues can be allocated for social good. By continuing to criminalize cannabis, Hawai‘i continues to miss out on millions in tax revenue and thousands of local jobs. Ending cannabis prohibition in Hawai‘i would also displace the criminal market and free up law enforcement resources to focus on more serious crime.
Legalization makes it possible to regulate, and control, cannabis to promote health and safety. Regulated cannabis is lab tested to ensure it is free of hazardous pesticides, molds, and additives. And only through legalization and regulation can Hawai‘i ensure most cannabis is grown in compliance with laws to protect the environment and workers, instead of in ways that despoil our natural treasures.
Marijuana legalization is a key component of broader criminal justice reform, and perhaps the most profound change being driven by the cannabis movement is in the area of criminal justice.
A cannabis conviction can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences (also called collateral sanctions). Discriminatory enforcement means these punitive collateral consequences disproportionately affect people of color. Additionally, we know that cannabis laws are disproportionately enforced. According to the ACLU, Black individuals are more than twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white individuals in Oahu and more than four times more likely in Maui.