East Hawaii News

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Focus of Task Force

June 23, 2014, 12:54 PM HST
* Updated June 24, 9:17 AM
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A task force created by the state Legislature will convene next week to study the creation of a dispensary system for medical marijuana in Hawaii.

The task force will be under the purview of the Public Policy Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

A statement from the state House of Representatives said its mission will be to develop recommendations for the establishment of a regulated statewide system to provide safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualified patients.

According to House Concurrent Resolution 48, which created the task force, Hawaii’s medical use of marijuana law is silent on how patients can legally obtain medical marijuana if they or a caregiver are unable to grow their own supplies.

The law is also silent on where the patients or caregivers can obtain seeds or seedlings with which to start their crop.

Rep. Della Au Bellati. House photo.

Rep. Della Au Bellati. House photo.

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The primary sponsors of HCR 48 were Rep. Della Au Belatti, who represents parts of Honolulu, and Puna Rep. Faye Hanohano.

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Also signing on as a co-sponsor was Maui Rep. Joe Souki, who last year led an unsuccessful attempt to legalize marijuana for recreational use. A similar attempt during the recent legislative session also failed.

According to the resolution, a regulated dispensary system is “urgently needed” by qualifying patients.

Rep. Faye Hanohano. House photo.

Rep. Faye Hanohano. House photo.

It said of the 20 states and Washington DC which have legalized medical marijuana, 13 also have dispensaries, and several others are in the process of establishing them.

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“A regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana will enable qualifying patients to obtain an inspected, safe supply of medical cannabis that is labeled as to the composition, strain, and strength of the cannabis to be most helpful to each patient’s condition,” HCR 48 said.

“A tightly regulated dispensary system for medical marijuana will comport with the spirit and intent of the Medical Use of Marijuana Law: compassion for Hawaii’s suffering patients and the provision of safe, legal, and reliable access for qualifying patients,” it said.

House Speaker Joe Souki. Courtesy photo.

House Speaker Joe Souki. Courtesy photo.

The task force convening at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 24, will submit a report of its findings to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the 2015 session.

The task force’s 20 members will include four state lawmakers; representatives of various state agencies including the departments of Health, Public Safety, Attorney General and Taxation; the Honolulu prosecuting attorney and a police chief.

Also taking part will be representatives of the Hawaii Medical Association, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii and the UH college of agriculture.

The task force will also contain two patients and a caregiver taking part in Hawaii’s medical marijuana program.

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