Its Official, Audit Justifies Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 12/10/2014 in Medical Marijuana Laws
Its official, lawmakers in Hawaii are pushing ahead on bills that will allow for medical marijuana dispensaries, following last weeks release of an audit that showed flaws in the existing law justified a better approach for patients to access their medication.
In the report dated December 2014, acting state auditor, Jan K. Yamanei said, “Because the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law, there is no place within the state to legally obtain marijuana, which forces qualifying medical marijuana patients to either grow their own medical marijuana or seek out black market products. For this overriding reason, we conclude that regulation of dispensaries is needed to protect the public from potential harm.”
Chair of the Senate Health Committee, said that he is positively certain that there will be several bills considered by the state Legislature, once it reconvenes January 21, 2015. “At the end of the day for me, it’s about the patient-physician relationship,” said State Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, who incidentally is also a physician. Green would personally prefer to see the state program become more mainstream, thinks that, “The program needs to be very tightly regulated, and it should be about the patients who need it most having access.” He strongly believes that a bill will successfully passed and subsequently signed by Gov. David Ige.
The medical marijuana laws currently allow for patients with diagnosed cancer, HIV/AIDS, severe pain, glaucoma, cachexia/wasting syndrome, severe nausea, severe and persistent muscle spasms, and seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, and any other medical condition approved by the state Department of Health.
Recent changes to the medical marijuana laws in Hawaii have made it legally possible for patients to now possess from 4 – 7 cannabis plants, as well as dried marijuana up to 4ounces. This same change in law also dictates that patients now receive their medical marijuana recommendation from their primary care doctor only, a change they hope will curtail the pop-up of pot docs in and around the states islands.
Another, and very important change, has rightly moved the Hawaii medical marijuana program from being under the domain of the Department of Public Safety, to that of the Department of Public Health. Although this transition is currently ongoing and hopes to be concluded by the end of 2014. In light of this transition, no medical marijuana applications will be accepted during the period December 12 to 31.
Hawaii is one of 23 states and the District of Columbia that allow legal marijuana use for medical reasons. Almost half the state’s roughly 13,000 registered medical marijuana patients live on Hawaii Island. The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has actively being addressing these issues since early this year. Oahu Democrat and Rep. Della Au Belatti, and chairwoman of the House Health Committee, has been managing the task force, which will meets December16 to finalize its report to the Legislature. “The audit actually references a lot of the work the task force is doing, she said.
According to Green the research conducted by the task force as to how other states handle medical marijuana dispensaries will be add valuable insight when setting up dispensaries in Hawaii. “A lot of important research was done in the past seven months. My hope is to take the best practices of other states.”
Factors to still considered and addressed include how many dispensaries to allow for, as well as deciding whether they should be for-profit or nonprofit. In addition, dispensary licensing still needs to be addressed, and the thought must still be given to implementation of quality control procedures.
The Health Department has indicated that it feels 20 dispensaries statewide would be a sufficient.