Hawaii: State’s Legalization Of Pot Could Yield $33 Million Annually

West Oahu, HI:  Taxing and regulating cannabis in Hawaii in a manner similar to alcohol could yield the state approximately $33 million in annual revenues and cost savings, according to an economic analysis released last week by the University of Hawaii.

The study found that regulating cannabis could create annual tax revenues of up to $23 million.  The study added that prosecuting and enforcing state pot laws costs taxpayers approximately $10 million per year. Of this total, more than 40 percent is spent by state and county law enforcement solely to enforce marijuana possession laws.

“Those who favor legalization … argue that policies like those involved in the regulation of alcohol and tobacco are far more effective in limiting the individual and social costs involved,” the study states. “[T]axation is significantly cheaper in terms of enforcement and outcomes than outlawing substances.”

The study also reports that law enforcement efforts to restrict Hawaii’s pot supply have been ineffective because the black market price of marijuana per ounce has fallen over the last decade –­ indicating a marked increase in supply and consumption.

A previous nationwide analysis of marijuana policy by Boston University economist Jeffrey Miron reported that enforcing state and federal pot laws costs taxpayers an estimated $7.7 billion annually.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.  Full text of the study, “The budgetary implications of marijuana decriminalization and legalization for Hawaii,” is available online from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii website at: http://www.dpfhi.org.