Hawaii Politician Considers Surprising New Cash Crop to Pay Off State Debt

A field of marijuana that is protected by an overhead net

In order to iron out some financial issues in her state, Hawaiian House Majority Floor Leader Rida Cabanilla may be turning to marijuana.

According to Watchdog, Cabanilla hopes to legalize cultivation, manufacturing and exporting of marijuana in Hawaii. That way, the state could be able to pay off billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. She also hopes that it can make way for infrastructure repairs, public education funding and human services programs.

Hawaii's retirement system, its public employee union health fund and its outstanding bonds make up for about $25 billion in the state's debt, so it shouldn't be a mystery why they want to experiment with marijuana. It's proven to be a major success in Colorado, and perhaps that's had some influence on Cabanilla.

She discussed how much Colorado has made in just the first few weeks of selling legal weed, but she questioned how much more could be made by producing it as well, something she envisions for her state. From what she hears the people of her state say, Hawaii has the "best marijuana in the world."

Admittedly not a fan of it, Cabanilla still believes that marijuana could turn Hawaii into a manufacturing state: "If that is what it takes for our state to be in the forefront where we can fix our roads, we can build more affordable housing, we can help the homeless — that is the route we should go."

Her plan, however, doesn't include making pot available to local people or other Americans (federal law could curb state-to-state commerce) right away. Instead, it will be grown in the islands and would be available exclusively to foreign markets. Also, it will come with a high export tax of at least 25%.

There's a lot of money to be made in the legal pot business — some estimates put the number in the hundreds of billions of dollars (more so than America's other top cash crops combined). No matter how against legalizing marijuana people can be, given time, they could come around just like this when they see how beneficial it is to a state's economy. Not only does Cabanilla want to legalize it, she seemingly wants to make Hawaii the number one pot empire in America.

According to a Gallup poll, 58% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. For the first time ever, it's won over the majority of this country. It's even winning over some people you'd least expect it to. Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas) recently said that he'd like to "implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives." In his inauguration speech, Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) said, "We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse."

As more people continue to hop on the pot bandwagon, expect to see some of your local politicians doing the same in the near future.