WASHINGTON, DC — Lawmakers in several states are anticipated to debate legislative measures this year that seek to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail distribution of marijuana.
To date, lawmakers in six states – Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont – have either pre-filed or introduced legislation to legalize marijuana consumption for adults.
On Friday, members of Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony regarding House Bill 699, one of two bills filed this year that seek to legalize the commercial production, sale, and use of cannabis by those persons age 21 or older. House Chairman, Rep. Joseph Souki, is sponsoring both measures. The other legalization bill is House Bill 150. Nearly six out of ten Hawaii voters believe that cannabis should be “taxed, regulated, and legalized for adults,” according to a statewide poll published earlier this month. Only 39 percent of respondents opposed the idea.
According to a January 2013 New Hampshire poll conducted by the firm Public Policy Polling, 53 percent of respondents favor “changing (state) law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.” Only 37 percent of respondents opposed the plan.
In Vermont, a 2012 survey of respondents in 148 Vermont cities throughout the state reported that one out of two Vermonters support legalization.
On Election Day, 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington approved citizens’ ballot initiatives legalizing the adult consumption of marijuana and authorizing the state to license individuals to commercially produce and sell it.
Nationally, nearly six out of ten Americans support legalizing cannabis, according to a just released Public Policy Polling automated telephone survey of 1,325 voters, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.
“Calling for an end to marijuana prohibition is no longer a political liability; it is a political opportunity,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Never in modern history has there been greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with cannabis prohibition and replacing it with a system of legalization and regulation. Politicians who are seeking to amend this failed policy are aligning themselves with the majority. Those who do not are siding with an ever decreasing minority of their constituents.”