Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jan 2014
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2014 Star Advertiser
Author: Timothy Hurley


Imagine a day when Maui Wowie and Kona Gold are legitimate marijuana
brands sold around the world, when Hawaii factories create legal
products such as Maui Wowie cookies, cannabis-infused ice cream and
marijuana macadamia nut chocolate candies.

That day might not be far off if state Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D, Ewa
Beach-West Loch Estates) has her way.

The lawmaker has introduced a bill that would lead to a plan to
legalize cultivation of marijuana in Hawaii for sale and export to
countries where usage is lawful.

Eventually, she said, if and when federal drug-trafficking
restrictions are lifted on marijuana distribution, Hawaii would also
be in a position to supply Colorado and Washington with marijuana and
what appear to be a growing number of states that are moving to
legalize the recreational use of pot.

"This would be worth billions," Cabanilla said Thursday at the state
Capitol. "This is going to be an economic engine unparalleled by
anything else. Our farmers will never be poor again."

Colorado, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana at the
beginning of the year, has already experienced shortages. Yet some
experts forecast $2.3 billion in legal U.S. sales of pot this year and
four times as much over the next 15 years.

Cabanilla said she could see the state imposing a 25 percent tax on
marijuana production or distribution or "whatever we can get," adding,
"It will be there. It will be enormous."

With the windfall, she said, lawmakers could undertake any number of
sweeping measures, ranging from eliminating the city property tax to
building and repairing state roads and highways, paying for the
state's unfunded liabilities, or creating more affordable housing.

Cabanilla said the pot would not be grown for use in Hawaii. She said
she doesn't believe marijuana should be legalized here.

Under the legislation, a panel of state department heads and other
officials would be formed to examine legal issues and create a plan
that would lead to the cultivation of marijuana for export to places
such as the Netherlands.

Cabanilla said Hawaii has the best soil and climate for growing
marijuana, and that once locally grown pot is on the market, it would
push others aside. The bill states, "The Goddess Pele has provided
Hawaii with the best soil in the nation for marijuana cultivation; it
should be capitalized upon for the good of her people."

At the Capitol, the lawmaker declared, "We are the best. We are the
best! We have the best marijuana in the world. I haven't tried it, but
the people who have tried have said, 'Wow!'"

Cabanilla acknowledged that plenty of security would be required for
marijuana farms. But the cost of guards and tall fences would be worth
the investment, she said, adding that there would be state oversight
and regulation.

State Reps. Faye Hanohano (D, Hawaiian Acres-Pahoa-Kalapana) and
Richard Creagan (D, Naalehu-Captain Cook-Keauhou) stood with Cabanilla
at her conference.

Creagan, a physician, said he wasn't sure how powerful an economic
engine pot cultivation would be, but that the state should explore the
possibilities so it is ready as the country and the world move toward
greater tolerance and use.

Majority party leaders have indicated that proposals to legalize
marijuana likely won't pass the current legislative session. But
Cabanilla, the House majority floor leader, said she's confident that
at least the House will support her bill.

Isle law enforcement agencies have opposed marijuana legalization in
Hawaii. On Thursday representatives of the state Department of Public
Safety, the Honolulu Police Department and the state attorney
general's office declined to comment on Cabanilla's bill, saying they
hadn't reviewed it yet.  
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