Tax & Regulate Marijuana, Hawaiians Say

     HONOLULU (CN) - Most Hawaiians approve of medical marijuana and want marijuana taxed and regulated, saving the state millions of dollars in enforcement and court costs, according to a recent poll.
     The Drug Policy Action Group interviewed 603 Hawaii voters from Nov. 19 to Dec. last year. Only 15 percent said they opposed a 2000 state law allowing use of medical marijuana with a doctor's prescription, and 57 percent favored decriminalization of possession and use of the drug, up from 42 percent in 2005, the Drug Policy Action Group said.
     It said the margin of error of its poll was 4.1 percent.
     University of Hawaii Associate Professor of Economics David Nixon said in the report that legalization could bring the state $11.3 million in annual revenue, and save it $9 million in enforcement costs.
     "The report concludes that the cost for enforcement of marijuana laws is increasing in Hawaii, the increased arrests for marijuana possession are not driven by increased marijuana usage, and the impacts of arrest for marijuana possession fall much more heavily on some demographic groups than others," according to the executive summary.
     Half of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, the others as Republican or Independent.
     Roughly 60 percent were non-Caucasian and held college degrees.
     Twenty-three states allow used of medical marijuana, and 12 will not jail people for possession of small amounts.
     Washington and Colorado in the November elections became the only two states to legalize recreational marijuana use.