Report: Legalizing cannabis would generate an additional $50M in state tax revenues
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Tax Department projects $50 million in revenues to Hawaii’s government coffers annually if cannabis was legalized for adults without a prescription.
But dispensary operators think it would bring in a lot more money.
As of Sept. 30, there were 33,725 patients in Hawaii who have medical cannabis cards.
There are eight licensed dispensaries across the state.
They include the Aloha Green Apothecary on King Street.
“We’re really only catering to about 8,000, 9,000 patients,” said Ty Cheng, president of Aloha Green Apothecary. “And those patient numbers have increased over the last three years, especially during the pandemic and we’ve seen revenue double from two years ago.”
Cheng is hoping a new administration ushers in a new era.
“I think there’s real positive mood right now when it comes to adult use cannabis with the recent pardoning by President Biden on federal drug charges,” said Cheng.
The state tax report was reported this week to the Dual Use of Cannabis Task Force, which was created by Gov. David Ige and the state Legislature to study the potential impacts of cannabis legalization.
According to the Tax Department, the medical cannabis industry generated $2.5 million in taxes in the last fiscal year,
But they predict that legalizing cannabis would bring in up to $50 million in tax revenue. State Rep. Ryan Yamane who is on the task force said that’s not enough.
“That is difficult to use in order to establish a new program,” said Yamane. “Hire employees, do monitoring, do all the different aspects of adult recreational use, with $50 million annually.”
Yamane said the task force is still gathering information that will be reported back to lawmakers.
“There’s going to be a number of opportunities for the general public to chime in, testify for or against,” said Yamane. “But what we wanted was to dispel some of the myths and find out what is fact.”
Some 19 other states have legalized marijuana for adult use without a state permit.
The industry is hopeful Hawaii will be next.
“We should all stay tuned, and we should be prepared for the public to provide input and comment,” said Randy Gonce, director of the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association.
“This is the closest Hawaii has ever been to legalizing cannabis in the history of our state.”
The task force is also considering the social impacts and how legalization would impact illegal drug sales. It’s held nine public meetings so far. The next one is on Nov. 14 at the Hawaii State Art Museum.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.