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Hawaii: Measure To Provide Safe Access To Medical Marijuana Becomes Law

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hawaii medical marijuanaBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Legislation to establish a system of medical dispensaries for the state’s nearly 14,000 medical marijuana patients has become law.

Governor David Ige signed the measure, stating, “I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana. We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

House Bill 321 permits the state “to issue eight dispensary licenses statewide; provided that three dispensary licenses shall be issued for the city and county of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each shall be issued for the county of Hawaii and the county of Maui, and one dispensary license shall be issued for the county of Kauai. … Up to two production centers shall be allowed under each dispensary license, provided that each production center shall be limited to no more than three thousand marijuana plants. A dispensary licensee may establish up to two retail dispensing locations under the licensee’s dispensary license.”

The state Department of Health has until January 4, 2016 to finalize rules governing the dispensary program. Licensed dispensaries are anticipated to be operational by July 15, 2016. Once operational, qualified patients will be able to obtain up to four ounces of cannabis or cannabis-infused products, such as oils, tinctures, or lozenges, from a licensed provider every 15 days.

A separate provision included in HB 321 also adds post-traumatic stress as a qualifying condition under the state’s medical cannabis law.

Legislation initially enacted by the legislature in 2000 provides qualified patients the legal right to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes, but did not allow for its production and distribution via dispensaries.

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