Why should I care about marijuana law reform?
Hawaii’s failed marijuana laws:
- Cost taxpayers millions of dollar each year
- Unfairly target minority & low-income people
- Do not decrease marijuana use by young people
- Are not supported by Hawai‘i voters
Decriminalization frees up law enforcement resources for serious and violent crimes:
- Decriminalizing adult possession of an ounce or less of marijuana could save state and county governments in Hawai‘i an estimated $9 million annually.1
- Nationally, approximately $8 billion is spent every year arresting and prosecuting individuals for marijuana violations.2 Almost 90% of these arrests are for marijuana possession only.3
- Since 2004, possession arrests in Hawai‘i have increased almost 50% and distribution arrests almost doubled.1
Far more harm results from the criminalization of marijuana than from marijuana use itself:
- Juveniles in Hawai‘i are 70% more likely to be arrested than adults.1
- Native Hawaiians are 70% more likely to be arrested than others, despite similar use rates across all groups.1
- Convicted marijuana offenders:
- Can be denied federal student aid;
- Can lose their professional licenses;
- Encounter barriers to employment, housing, and adoption.
- These penalties disproportionally affect young, low income, and minority individuals.2
Will decriminalization increase marijuana use? NO.
- There is no evidence to support claims that criminalization reduces use or decriminalization increases use.4
- Studies find that decriminalizing marijuana has had no effect on marijuana use among young people.5
- Harsh marijuana laws do not deter use.6
Do Hawai‘i voters support decriminalization? YES.
- 58% of voters believe that marijuana possession for personal use should carry a fine instead of jail time.7
1. Nixon, David. Update to: Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Decriminalization and Legalization in Hawai’i. University of Hawai’i, Dec 2012. http://freshapproachhawaii.org/economic-perspectives/
2. Duncan, Cynthia. “The Need for Change: An Economic Analysis of Marijuana Policy.” Connecticut Law Review 14 (July 2009)
3. United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s combined Uniform Reports. Crime in the United States: Table: Arrest for Drug Abuse Violations. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC. 2010.
4. Reinarman, Cohen, and Kaal. “The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco.” American Journal of Public Health 94.5 (May 2004)
5. Williams, Jenny. “The Effects of Price and Policy on Marijuana Use: What Can Be Learned from the Australian Experience?” Health Economics 13 (2004): 123-137.
6. Connecticut. Connecticut Law Review Commission. Drug Policy in Connecticut and Strategy Options: Report to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut Assembly. State Capitol: Hartford, 1997.
7. QMark Research & Polling. November 19 –December 4, 2012. Survey of 603 adults statewide, MOE +/-4% http://freshapproachhawaii.org/economic-perspectives/
8. National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine. “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”. National Academy Press: Washington, DC, 5, 6. 1999.