The days are getting longer but the sun is not yet rising earlier, which makes for some very dark mornings, especially when it's cloudy, though the stars, long absent, were out today, and Venus was gleaming.
Like many other people, I've been in an inward place for the past few weeks, keeping to myself, engaged in contemplation and personal projects. Perhaps it's the winter hibernation mode, a response to the darkness. But today, with this new moon, things seem to have shifted.
Such as the ice in Hudson Bay, which freed the trapped killer whales. Hooray! The coolest thing about that whole episode, aside from the willingness of people to help, was the way the whales took turns breathing through a single hole. There's so much we can learn from modeling animals — aside from down dog, up dog, cobra and all the other yoga postures inspired by their movements.
A substantial shift also has occurred in how Hawaii residents view marijuana. According to a poll and economic study conducted for the local Drug Policy Action Group, 57 percent of the respondents support legalizing and taxing marijuana — up from 37 percent in 2005. Just 40 percent believe adult use of cannabis should remain a crime, down from 60 percent in 2005.
A whopping 81 percent support medical marijuana, and 78 percent support a regulated dispensary system to provide prescription holders with cannabis.
In terms of reasons to change the law, 76 percent believe that cops should spend more time going after hard drugs and violent crime — ya think? — and 68 percent don't dig the way even minor drug offenses prevent people from getting federal college loans, though folks who commit violent crimes are still eligible. And despite the hysteria that is always whipped up by the antis, 68 percent of residents sensibly believe that regulating sales, with penalties for sales to minors, could actually reduce use among juveniles. Another 67 percent recognize that legalizing weed would undercut drug cartels, and 65 percent object to the way people's lives are ruined and the judicial system is clogged because probationers possess pakalolo or have “dirty” piss tests.
A whopping 65 percent believe the “war on drugs” is not worth the money.
Some 41 percent would like to see the legalization tax revenues — estimated at $11.3 million annually — go to public education, while 36 percent favor putting it toward drug treatment. In other words, taxes derived from people smoking the herb could help other folks get off ice and oxies. Talk about win-win.
Sadly, marijuana possession arrests have increased almost 50 percent in Hawaii since 2004, while distribution arrests have nearly doubled. Worse, young Hawaiian men are targeted in numbers disproportionate to their share of the population. Native Hawaiians are 70 percent more likely to be busted than other ethnic groups. Now that's a travesty.
The state and counties are now spending $12 million annually on enforcement, up from $8 million in 2005. And even though Hawaii could redirect over $9 million annually in law enforcement costs by decriminalizing cannabis, the cops fight it tooth and nail. Why?
Well, here are the "officia"l — and oh-so-tired and bogus — reasons why the Honolulu Police Department is opposed to easing the clamp down, according to Civil Beat:
Research has linked frequent marijuana use with an increase in violent behavior. Legalizing marijuana would increase its availability and the public’s willingness to use the drug. Marijuana has high potential for abuse and addiction, creating a need for treatment programs and other assistance. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries in California have brought an increase in burglaries, robberies, homicides, money laundering, firearms violations, and drug dealing. As far as medicinal use, marijuana is classified as a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance with no commonly accepted medical use. The average THC concentration has increased significantly over the years, and there are no controls on potency and dosage. Further, a synthetic form of THC is already legally available by prescription.
Mmmm, you don't suppose the perennial police opposition could have anything to do with the fact that they're making money off it being illegal, in terms of green harvest, asset forfeiture and their own shake downs and thefts?
But thankfully, marijuana laws in this state are made by our legislators, not the cops. And here's the part that should make vote-conscious politicians stand up and take notice: 75 percent of the registered voters polled said that if their state lawmaker voted to decriminalize marijuana, it would either make them more likely to vote for that legislator, or have no impact on their vote.
Pretty clear, eh?
Perhaps there will be something worthwhile to come out of the Legislature this session — I mean, aside from the repeal of the PLDC, which btw just cancelled its January, meeting, too.