Lawmaker: Growing, Exporting Marijuana Would Pay Off Hawaii’s Debts
CBS DC (con't)
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Honolulu, Hawaii (CBSDC) — A top Hawaiian lawmaker is calling for the legalization of marijuana in order to pay of billions in state debt and improvements to transportation and public education programs.
House Majority Floor Leader Rida Cabanilla is looking to fix roads, affordable housing and sew up some nearly $25 billion in state debt through the manufacturing and exporting of marijuana and marijuana-based products, Watchdog.org reports.
“This state would turn into a manufacturing state. Can you imagine factories that would be making ‘Maui Wowie’ cookies and making marijuana macadamia nut candy for export? I think that would be wonderful,” said Cabanilla, who represents Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe and West Loch.
Cabanilla says she has not personally inhaled the drug but points to the legalization in Colorado and Washington states to show the financial boost from marijuana.
“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!’” Cabanilla said.
“Even though the governor says we are $900 billion in the positive, (there is) this lingering problem that unfunded liabilities and funding preschools and more affordable housing – those still have to be funded. For many years we have put on this thing about gambling and it doesn’t pass the House because they don’t want it here.”
“But this one, everybody benefits,” said Cabanilla. “The farmers, the manufacturers, and with the revenue that we are going to get, that proliferates in every household in the state.”
Cabanilla said she plans to pass House Bill 2124, which puts the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and Department of Agriculture in charge of legalization, cultivation and exporting to foreign jurisdictions – including the Netherlands, where the drug is legal.
Should the federal government lift restrictions on marijuana, Hawaii would be “ready to rock,” she said.
Earlier this week, The White House restated that the President remains opposed to nationwide decriminalization of marijuana, despite his interview comments that pot posed no greater risk than alcohol.
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama told The New Yorker’s David Remnick.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency considers marijuana a schedule I substance along with drugs such as heroin, ecstasy and LSD – “the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.”
A recent Gallup poll finds that for the first time a clear majority of Americans (58 percent) say the drug should be legalized. A 1969 Gallup poll asking the same question showed that only 12 percent of Americans agreed marijuana should be legalized.
Other budget-strapped lawmakers agree with Cabanilla’s pot plan.
Hawaii Rep. Richard Creagan (D-Naalehu, Captain Cook and Keauhou), is a medical doctor who supports the push to expand marijuana use for manufacturing and foreign sales.
“Our country is moving towards an eventual goal of legalizing marijuana. It’s legalized in a host of states (including Hawaii) for medical reasons, and when you look at the risk benefit of marijuana versus other things like narcotics, the risk is small and the benefit is huge,” Creagan said.