The Hawaiian Islands have historically been known for exporting fresh fruits and nuts, dank coffee beans, and sunburnt tourists. While the many legends of amazing pakalolo strains like Kauai Electric, Kona Gold, and the infamous Maui Wowie have made their way to the mainland over the years, extremely strict anti-cannabis state laws, and a lack of will to reform them, have kept Hawaii’s finest weed a well-kept secret.
One high-ranking state lawmaker hopes to change that, though, and in the process help turn marijuana into Hawaii’s new number one cash crop.
House Majority Floor Leader Rida Cabanilla swears she has never inhaled marijuana, but she is convinced that by cropping and exporting the plant on a state-wide level, Hawaii can potentially solve three lingering issues by fixing the state’s crumbling roads, building and providing affordable housing for lower income families, and by her math, all but eliminate the state’s current $25-billion in debts.
Cabanilla was quoted saying, “The state of Colorado made $1.6 billion in two weeks just by selling it. How much do you think we’re going to make for producing it and selling it? When we are the best, we are the best. We have the best marijuana in the world. I haven’t tried it, but the people that have tried it say, ‘Wow!'”
If passed, her proposal HB2124 would place the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the Department of Agriculture in charge of maintaining the law, growing the weed, and exporting it to willing markets. The thought being, once the United States federal government gets its act together and reschedules marijuana on a national level, Hawaii would be “ready to rock”, as Cabanilla puts it.
In a perennially left-leaning “blue” state like Hawaii, where 66% of voters polled recently expressed support for outright legalization for adult recreational pot use, one would think that passing progressive pot laws would be a breeze. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Much like Colorado and Washington enjoyed leading up to their own reefer revolutions, the state of Hawaii has seen a huge increase in voter support for legalization in the past two to three years. The 66% figure released in the latest poll is up a full 9% from the same poll question asked in November 2012.
The major difference between Hawaii politics and Colorado or Washington’s state politics lies in their respective state constitutions. Hawaii’s law gives no provision for statewide referendums or ballot initiatives – the democratic mechanisms that voters typically use to directly overturn unpopular existing laws, or create new ones.
Unlike in Washington and Colorado who do allow their voters such a voice, Hawaiian issues are pushed to the state legislature, where the sausage-making of politics has, up until now, spoiled all attempts at real cannabis reform.
As the head of Hawaii’s Drug Policy Action Group, Pamela Lichty is ready for serious change, and she believes that the people are as well, stating, “Around the country and here in Hawaii, voters are fed up with marijuana laws that seem to have been written after watching 1930’s propaganda films like ‘Reefer Madness’. Voters today want reasonable, modern policies that acknowledge marijuana’s value as a medicine, and which address public health and safety, but do not overstate marijuana’s risks as a recreational drug.”
Perhaps 2014 will be the year that Hawaii’s lawmakers finally begin to listen to the people.
“Can you imagine factories that would be making ‘Maui Wowie’ cookies and making marijuana macadamia nut candy for export,” quips Cabanilla, who never said she hasn’t tried edibles, “I think that would be wonderful.”
So do we, Representative Cabanilla.