Representative Joseph Souki, Chair of the Hawaiian House Committee on Transportation and House Speaker Emeritus, has introduced legislation that would make Hawaii the third state to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.
House Bill 150 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over the age of 21, in addition to allowing for the licensing and regulation of marijuana retail stores, as well as cultivation and manufacturing centers.
Polling conducted this month by the ACLU of Hawaii found that 57% of Hawaiians support taxing and regulating marijuana and only 39% were opposed.
Hawaii now joins Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont on the list of states with pending legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana, with more expected to join them in the coming weeks. It is no longer a question of if these states will join Colorado and Washington in adopting new and sensible marijuana laws, but which one will do it first. Perhaps, in honor of the Choom Gang, President Obama’s birth state of Hawaii will lead the charge.
It is extremely important your elected officials hear from you in support of these measures. You can find out if your state is currently considering marijuana law reform legislation and easily send a pre-written letter of support to your elected officials by using NORML’s Take Action Center here. If you live in one of the five states (Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) considering the legalization of marijuana for all adults, you can click on the appropriate link below and go directly to your state’s action alert.
Tell Your Elected Officials to Support Marijuana Legalization!
The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the most senior member of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) again spoke out against the War on Drugs today during a briefing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s upcoming agenda.
“The fact that so many people, especially young people, go to prison for a relatively minor thing, a drug offense. And then you ask, why can’t they get jobs afterward? Why do they have problems from then on?
I think we have spent tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars on the so-called War on Drugs. Well, we’ve lost.” – Sen. Leahy
Senator Leahy also addressed the disproportionate toll marijuana prohibition takes on people of color:
“There are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but have the money to stay out and are not there.” – Sen. Leahy
It seems time does bring wisdom and other members of Congress should take notice and follow the lead of one of their most experience legislators. The time for sensible marijuana policy has come and this reaffirmation of support from an elected official, in such a position of influence as Senator Leahy, is clear proof the winds of reform are blowing strongly in our favor.
New polling data released this week from Castleton Polling Institute shows pro-reform incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin (D) holding a massive lead over his challenger, Randy Brock (R). A survey of 477 registered Vermont voters taken from August 11th to 21st found they favored Gov. Shumlin by a full 34 percentage points, 60% for Shumlin and just 26% for Brock.
This is notable considering Shumlin’s longterm support of marijuana law reforms while governor and that this data comes just over a week after he contacted NORML to explicitly express his desire to continue his push for decriminalization. Attempts by his contender Randy Brock to cast Governor Shumlin’s support for sensible law reforms as “sending the wrong message to kids” seem to have failed in eroding support for the popular sitting politician. And it is no wonder, recent Vermont polling conducted by MPP this February shows that 63% of Vermont citizens support decriminalizing marijuana possession. Perhaps even more telling is that 52% of respondents stated a candidates support of decriminalization made them more likely to vote for them, 21% stated it would not alter their decision, and only 25% said it would make them less likely.
All other candidates take note, as we saw earlier this year in Oregon and Texas, the majority of Americans are ready to see an end to our seven decade failure that is cannabis prohibition. Coming out in support of these sensible reforms will no longer cost you an election, but it just may win you one.