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Hawaii Considers Developing Statewide Dispensary System

Small shack in Hawaii surrounded by thick green foliage and a hand made sign for MMJ cards

Dispensaries

Hawaii Considers Developing Statewide Dispensary System

Photo by Linka Odom

Although medical marijuana has been available to qualifying patients in Hawaii since 2000, it has taken more than a decade for state officials to seriously consider implementing regulations that would also make medical marijuana dispensaries a part of the program.

Since their medical cannabis law went into effect, Hawaiian patients haven’t had dispensaries to provide loose leaf cannabis or cannabis-infused products, although they have been given the greenlight to grow their own cannabis privately. Interestingly, it’s still illegal to purchase seeds to cultivate, creating a major conflict between patients and the law.

The Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau recently released an updated report highlighting the policies and procedures for access, distribution and security surrounding cannabis. At a public hearing on the topic, patients voiced their frustrations at not having adequate access to their medicine. Brenda Cloutier, a fibromyalgia sufferer, shared her disappointment with the current structure and shortcomings of the current medical marijuana program.

“Hawaii … does not provide legal means for me to procure seeds, propagation materials or plants without breaking state and federal laws,” she said. “There is no other controlled pharmaceutical or herbal medication available in this state that forces the patient to break the law to obtain their medicine.”

To help alleviate the problem, a 21-member Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force was created by the state to craft regulations and develop an efficient plan for making cannabis more accessible to patients in need. The group includes representatives from the House and Senate, a medical professional, caregiver, current medical cannabis patients and law enforcement.

Some major concerns include island-to-island transporting of cannabis, which would be considered a federal crime despite the fact that it’s still considered within the state. Representative Della Au Belatti, head of the task force, recognizes the unique obstacles implementing a statewide dispensary system may impose.

“There are lots of gaps in the law. Hawaii has that special challenge of interstate travel,” he said.

Another public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24 in Oahu. Following that, the task force will release updated recommendations as well as proposed legislation to be implemented in 2015.

Why do you think it’s taken 14 years for Hawaii to develop a dispensary system? Tell us your thoughts below.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Diana Conyers

    September 29, 2014 at 3:16 am

    I would love to be involved even if I start from here, what’s a contact info?

  2. Diana Conyers

    September 29, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Omg…I’d do anything to be apart to this potential Hawaii project, I been saving and dreaming to move to hawaii if I have to live in the streets just to start. But to be a part of possibly would give me reasons in life…to go on.

  3. Scarlette O'Scare

    September 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    As someone who has lived in Hawaii long enough to be considered from there, a number of factors play into this topic. First of all, to be frank, up until recently medical marijuana wasn’t a topic to be concerned with. The state of Hawaii is just now getting out of an economic crisis that almost put the state into a depression. Granted, one of the main sources of income comes from the tourism industry and that in itself was affected by the recession the entire country faced, but for a state that is literally 2,000 miles away from any land source, the ability to recover from something that detrimental takes almost twice the amount of time it takes than a state connected to the mainland. Japan is another country where there is a major influx of visitors, and with the past couple of years being uneasy for them, tourism was impacted further, up until recently. The monthly tourism percentage is slowly raising, but Hawaii is nowhere near it’s average visitor rate. The only thing that really kept Hawaii from going under was the military installations. A lot of businesses rely on military affiliated customers.

    Another factor is Hawaii’s drug war. Due to it’s location, Hawaii is known to be the crossing point of importing and exporting illegal substances. Hawaii is also the biggest consumer and manufacturer of crystal meth, so millions are put into the drug war every year. That being said, crystal meth is so prevelent, you can walk through Honolulu’s Chinatown during the day and easily spot out the users.

    Lastly, and this is a personal view, I feel the state is now addressing this long standing issue due to bandwagon jumping and it takes away from their other political issues like the billion dollar investment into a rail system to be built by an Italian company that is now bankrupt to try to alleviate the traffic problem, which will only cause more problems. Despite the bandwagon, I am glad they are finally addressing the issues with medicinal marijuana in the state and I hope that one day they decide to decriminalize it, I personally believe Hawaii can benefit from the marijuana industry tremendously. We have witnessed it work with Washington and Colorado, and what stoner wouldn’t like to brag about how they smoked some Maui Wowie while on this island of Maui?

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