East Hawaii News

Final Negotiations Set for Marijuana Dispensary Bill

May 4, 2015, 9:49 AM HST
* Updated May 4, 9:50 AM
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Differences between lawmakers in the State Senate and State House of Representatives over HB321 HD1 SD2, relating to medical marijuana dispensaries, will be negotiated one final time Monday.

House Speaker Joseph Souki and Senate President Donna Mercado Kim initially announced on Friday that both chambers had agreed to extend the negotiation deadline until 10 p.m. that night and had scheduled a meeting to continue talks. Several hours later, however, the meeting was cancelled.

Souki and Mercado Kim once again found a way to keep the bill alive, announcing late Friday night that the negotiation deadline had been extended until 2 p.m. Monday.

District 4 Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura, representing the Puna District, is one of six House members part of the negotiations. Co-chairs from the House are Oahu Representatives Della Au Bellotti, Karl Rhoads, and Sylvia Luke,

Senator Will Espero is the chairperson of the committee. Other conferees include Oahu Senators Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Jill Tokuda, Mike Gabbard, and Les Ihara.

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District 3 Senator Josh Green, covering Kona and Ka’u, had been one of the conferees working on the bill, but was discharged from the group on Friday. Ihara took his place.

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The bill states that “the purpose of this Act is to establish a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana to ensure safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients.”

The most recent draft of the bill, which was issued on April 20 by the Senate, repealed a requirement in an earlier senate version of the draft that a “certifying physician be the qualifying patient’s primary care physician.” It also added plans for a general excise tax rate of 15 percent against the gross proceeds of marijuana sales at the dispensaries, as well as a retail marijuana special sales tax of 10 percent “of the gross proceeds of sales by a marijuana dispensary.”

Medicinal marijuana use is already legal in the state, having passed 15 years ago.

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