Hawaii Marijuana Patients Want Dispensaries, More Plants


Graphic: www.hawaiimedicalmarijuana.org

​Medical marijuana advocates in Hawaii say it’s time to make it easier for patients in the state to have safe access to medicinal cannabis.

Ten years ago, Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process (California [1996], Oregon and Washington [1998] had already passed voter initiatives), but advocates say the the state program has failed to adapt to evolving patient needs, reports B.J. Reyes of the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
“We haven’t made any changes to our legislation since day one,” said Pam Lichty, president of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and co-chairwoman of the Medical Cannabis Working Group, convened last year to study the state’s law and make recommendations to the Legislature.
The report from the working group, due this week, plans to make four recommendations:

• Creating a distribution system, i.e., dispensaries
• Increasing the allowed number of plants, and increasing the amount of usable marijuana patients may have
• Allowing caregivers to care for at least five patients
• Transferring control of the medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Health Department

Graphic: Honolulu Star Bulletin

​Legislation is currently alive in the Hawaii Legislature that would address all of those concerns, the Star Bulletin reports.
Two of the measures were heard in Senate committees last week, and more hearings are expected later this session.
Hawaii’s current law allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to keep an “adequate supply” of marijuana, not to exceed three mature cannabis plants, four immature plants and one ounce of usable marijuana at any given time.
Predictably, law enforcement and prosecutors are against increasing the amounts that patients are allowed to possess.
“To expand the medical marijuana laws and amend our current statutes from their current restrictions would only assist those individuals now growing marijuana illegally and generating huge profits,” Big Island Police Chief Harry Kubojiri testified before the committee of State Senator David Ige (D-Alea/Pearl City).
Kubojiri apparently hadn’t thought the issue through. Obviously, allowing legal patients to have more legal pot on hand decreases their dependence on the black market and thus allows them to contribute less to the “huge profits” associated with illegal pot transactions.
But you know how it is. Most cops hate pot, in that inexplicable and brainless way that most dogs hate cats. They just do; they don’t need a logical reason.
“Passage of this bill would further hamper law enforcement organizations in their efforts to control this drug and the related crimes that come with it,” Kubojiri claimed.
The private Medical Cannabis Working Group, which included drug policy advocates, doctors, patients and others, was formed in September without input from the state.
Although lawmakers passed a bill calling for the state to convene just such a task force, conservative Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, something of a pot-hater herself, completely ignored the measure.
“We need a safe and legal supply of medical cannabis,” said Teri Heede, 54, of Makakilo, who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for 18 years.