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Could Hawaii Travel Be Diversified And Boosted By Legal Cannabis?

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Earlier this week, Hawaii’s Cannabis Task Force met again in the direction of possible legalization of marijuana in Hawaii. The state has now projected that at least $50 million in tax revenue is possible by legalizing over-the-counter sales. Others are certain that the state’s estimates are unusually low. Hawaii has been looking at ways to be less tourist dependent; could this be it?

That’s because the state’s research arm, UHERO, recently said, “Hawaii’s economy is unusually specialized in tourism, leading to vulnerability to
external shocks and falling productivity growth. In response … policymakers in Hawaii are increasingly emphasizing diversification.”

Currently, marijuana use in Hawaii is limited to those with a medical need. Dispensaries exist but are only allowed to sell to those with medical marijuana cards.

Green administration is pro-green.

There is a feeling that if Josh Green is elected (a largely foregone conclusion), he will help move the legalization of marijuana forward. He recently said, “I think that people have already culturally moved past that as a concern.” He would like to see tax money from marijuana sales invested in “our mental health care system for the benefit of all”. While supporting mental health is good, we wonder if there are other places where the money should also be invested, such as affordable housing.

Alternative to Hawaii travel tax dollars?

Marijuana would go a long way toward replacing Hawaii’s tourism tax. The state says it collected just $600 million in lodging taxes in 2019, pre-Covid, for example.

Potential for Hawaiian marijuana to be a premium agricultural crop substitute.

Hawaii’s earlier crops, such as pineapple and sugar cane, are long gone, and since they are not financially sustainable, they will not return. Premium agricultural products are hard to come by. But this one makes sense.

Iconic cultivars in Hawaii marijuana.

Remember names like Maui Wowie, Big Island’s Kona Gold and Kauai Electric? These are world-renowned cultivars that date back many decades.

Can the federal government allow the interstate sale of marijuana?

There is no doubt that marijuana would be big business for visitors. However, this pales in comparison to the national potential for Hawaii’s famous marijuana.

This summer, the cannabis industry got a boost with the Cannabis Administration and Opportunities Act, now in committee. If approved, it would bring sweeping changes to cannabis policy across the country, including in Hawaii.

The law would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and shift regulation from the DEA to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the FDA. The bill also calls for a federal excise tax of 5% to 25% on marijuana.

Currently, marijuana is legal in 19 states plus DC, while medical marijuana is legal in 37 states, including Hawaii.

Major companies, including Amazon and the tobacco giants, are expected to jump into the industry.

What’s Next for Hawaii’s Marijuana Industry?

The state says it is still gathering information to report back to lawmakers. The public will also have the opportunity to chime in and testify. Hawaii’s fledgling marijuana industry hopes Hawaii will be next to adopt full legalization.

Global cannabis tourism and Hawaii.

Marijuana use has been reported to have increased during and after Covid. And perceptions about the drug’s harmfulness have certainly changed. Along with this, there is extensive marijuana tourism.

Travel marketing analysis by MMGY said that 29% of leisure travelers are interested in cannabis tourism. Look at marijuana-tourism-focused Amsterdam as an example. The government there reported that 58% of international visitors choose the city for that purpose. They also said that the infamous “coffee shop” businesses have increased since Covid.

Other places, like Illinois or as far away as Thailand, believe that legal cannabis has boosted their tourism industries.

Hawaii has the opportunity, if it wants to, to expand its tourism industry and create unique, Hawaii brands of cannabis, CBD and hemp products that relate to the iconic Hawaii experience. There is undoubtedly enormous economic potential associated with both Hawaii canna tourism and Hawaii cannabis products.

Could Hawaii be the next Amsterdam?

Hawaii marijuana agri-tourism also has the potential for farm visits and even marijuana festivals. Instead of bed and breakfast, what about button and breakfast?

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