In just the last few decades there has been a radical change in opinion about marijuana legalization in Hawaii with support for reform growing significantly in the past seven years. According to a QMark Research poll commissioned by the ACLU, a solid majority of voters in the state now support legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana for adults.

The QMark Research Poll was conducted between November 19th and December 4th of last year following the victory of the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington State. It found that that 57 percent of voters supported legalizing marijuana, while only 40 percent wanted it to remain illegal. This was basically a complete reversal of opinions compared to 2005 when the same firm last asked about legalization. Back in 2005, only 37 percent of Hawaiian voters back legalization and 60 percent opposed it. Hawaii, like the rest of the country, has seen a dramatic shift in opinions regarding marijuana legalization in recent years.

The poll also found that an overwhelming 78 percent of voters back the creation of a medical marijuana dispensary system in the state. While medical marijuana has been legal in the state for over a decade, there is no legal way for patients to obtain it besides growing it themselves.

Unfortunately Hawaii does not allow citizen ballot initiatives, so any changes to its marijuana laws will need to be approved by the state legislature.  While the electorate already backs legalization, it will probably take a few more years before a majority of the state legislature is ready to embrace it. Hawaii, though, was the first state to approve medical marijuana via that legislature instead of via the ballot and it is  conceivable that it may play a similar role ending marijuana prohibition.

Photo by fiuchris under Creative Commons license