What Happens if Hawaii Legalizes Marijuana?

Colorado has done it, transforming a lucrative black market into a booming commercial sector with $7 million in tax revenue in the first quarter. Legal cannabis stores in Washington state will soon open. Some people believe Hawaii should be next.

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$190 million

Estimated taxes and fees to be collected from recreational cannabis in Washington state during four fiscal years, beginning in mid-2015.

Source: Washington state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council


Number of medical-marijuana patients in Hawaii

Source: Hawaii Department of Public Safety

$98 million

Estimated tax revenue from marijuana for Colorado’s 2014-15 fiscal year.

Source: Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed budget, Colorado Department of Revenue

Feds Back Off

The U.S. government is no longer vigorously enforcing federal marijuana laws. The U.S. Department of Justice says it is focusing its enforcement of federal marijuana laws on preventing these eight factors:

  1. Distribution of marijuana to minors;
  2. Marijuana revenue going to criminal enterprises;
  3. Diversion to states where it is illegal;
  4. State-authorized marijuana activity being used as a cover for other illegal drug activity;
  5. Violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation of marijuana;
  6. Drugged driving and other adverse public health consequences;
  7. Growing of marijuana on public lands; and
  8. Marijuana possession or use on federal property.


Recreational-cannabis retail stores in Colorado.

Source: Colorado Department of Revenue

Cannabis and the Law


Would end the prohibition on cannabis for adults 21 and over.


Would reduce the possession of a limited amount of cannabis from a petty misdemeanor to a civil fine, essentially eliminating jail time for offenders.

Hawaii’s medical-marijuana law:

Patients with a qualifying disability or disease, such as cancer, glaucoma or HIV, can apply to the state Department of Public Safety for a medical-marijuana card after a participating physician’s recommendation. (The program will be transferred to the Department of Health by January 2015.) Hawaii has no medical-marijuana dispensaries, so patients must grown their own cannabis or have a caregiver grow for them. Patients or their caregivers may legally possess up to three ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature.


Indoor recreational-cannabis “farms” in Colorado.

Source: Colorado Department of Revenue


Recreational cannabis stores licensed in Washington state. (There were 7,000 applications for licenses.)

Source: Washington State Liquor Board



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