For Immediate Release: February 9, 2021
Press Release by:
Councilmember Keani N.W. Rawlins-Fernandez
Vice-Chair, Maui County Council
Citing economic and social benefits, Maui County Council urges legislature to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis
KAUNAKAKAI, Hawaiʻi—Hawaiʻi would join 15 other states, the District of Columbia and Guam in legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis for responsible adult-use if the legislature follows the Maui County Council’s guidance in Resolution 21-19, adopted by a 9-0 vote Friday, Council Vice-Chair Keani N.W. Rawlins-Fernandez announced today.
Introduced by Rawlins-Fernandez, the resolution cites the experiences of Colorado and other states that have realized billions of dollars in tax revenue and increased job growth from legalizing cannabis, often erroneously referred to as marijuana. The resolution also documents reports of racial disparity and injustice in the enforcement of laws prohibiting cannabis use and supports promoting equitable ownership and employment opportunities in a legal cannabis industry, granting clemency or resentencing to anyone incarcerated on a marijuana conviction and expunging all marijuana convictions.
“While governments at all levels are facing revenue shortfalls because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the time is ideal for Hawaiʻi to approve responsible, adult-use cannabis,” said Rawlins-Fernandez, who chairs the council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee. “The state and the counties would be able to redirect money from the criminal-justice system to economic and social equity.”
The resolution references research from the Marijuana Policy Project, the Hawaiʻi Cannabis Industry Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. Citing the pandemic, the resolution asserts “the need is greater than ever to immediately incentivize and develop other revenue generators.”
Several cannabis-legalization bills have been introduced for the 2021 state legislative session, but none have been scheduled for committee hearings, Rawlins-Fernandez said. She said she urges residents urge their legislators to schedule the bills for hearings and to testify in support of the bills if they are heard.