Our sister organization, the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, has just published an FAQ on 2013ʻs legislative modifications to the Hawaii medical marijuana program. The FAQ also includes analysis of the Hawaii Supreme Courtʻs ruling in the “Woodhall” case – involving patient travel with medicinal cannabis within the state of Hawaii.
“We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that. I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.”
Our ‘ohana at the MCCHI is developing a Frequently Asked Questions document about the recently passed updates to our Hawaii medical marijuana program, set to go into effect in 2015.
Please give them your input!
“Thankfully, the Hawaii State Legislature took a bold stand more than a decade ago, in the face of great political pressure, which still exists, and allowed for legal use by chronically ill and disabled people.
Chronic pain is the No. 1 medical condition in the United States, with an estimated 75 million to 100 million Americans living with it. At least 20 million to 25 million Americans live with severe pain. In Hawaii, it is conservatively estimated that more than 100,000 live with moderate to severe pain from all causes, including arthritic degeneration, trauma, metabolic conditions such as diabetes, and cancer or its treatment.”
The Conference Committee on HB 668 and SB 642 went all the way to the last minute, and it was a nail-biter – but after all that work – two important bills to update Hawaii’s medical marijuana program passed out of Conference Committee and passed their respective floor votes! They now await the signature of governor Abercrombie. This the first time in 13 years since the program was passed that any changes have been made and it is because of your tireless work that Hawaii’s program is moving in the right direction. We still have a lot of work to do in 2014 and on to make more improvements to the program for patients, caregivers, and physicians and follow in the steps of more up to date programs in other states.
- Conference Committee report of HB 668 – http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/CommReports/HB668_CD1_CCR178_.htm
- Final version of HB 668 – http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/Bills/HB668_CD1_.HTM
- Conference Committee report of SB 642 – http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/CommReports/SB642_CD1_CCR174_.htm
- Final version of SB 642 – http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/Bills/SB642_CD1_.HTM
HB 668, CD 1
A bill to transfer the Medical Cannabis Program to the Department of Health, passed as a straight transfer bill, eliminating the proposed “Transition Advisory Group” (we supported the elimination) and cleaning up the language around the responsibilities and timeline for the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) and Department of Health in the transfer. It also creates a “Medical Marijuana Registry Fund”. For the past 13 years, the monies collected from registering with the program were co-mingled with general funds by the Department of Public Safety. Now all money collected will go into an appropriate fund that is only used for administering the program.
The transfer/bill MUST take effect by January 1, 2015 but the two departments are already working on the transition. This is a HUGE win for the medical cannabis community!
SB 642, CD 1
SB 642, the bill to improve aspects of the program, also passed. It is a positive step, but did not include all the changes we asked for – and the committee chair inserted in some provisions we don’t support. Unfortunately, Senator Green as the chair of the Senate Conference Committee would not pass HB 668 or the positive aspects of SB 642 unless the two bills were linked together and his amendments to the latter were included. The discussion at the Conference committee was very heated.
Improvements in the Conference Committee final draft that we DO support are:
- All existing registrations/licenses are “grandfathered” in, meaning no one will have to re-register until their current card expires;
- Increases the amount of usable medicine from the current allotment of 3 ounces to 4 ounces. We had previously asked for 5 ounces but the committee was only willing to allow 4 at this time.
- Removes the “immature” and “mature” definitions from the law so patients/caregivers are allowed 7 plants, regardless of state of growth;
Changes which we DO NOT support and will be working to change are:
- Allows only primary care physicians to recommend cannabis and certify qualifying patients and caregivers. This was added in by Senator Green presumably to “crack down” on visiting physicians from the Mainland recommending cannabis to patients in Hawai‘i but unfortunately this will have broader negative consequences to patients and physicians.
- All language protecting patients’ confidentiality has been removed. This means that the location of the residence where cannabis is grown for medical use will remain on the registry cards. This is something that Senator Green insisted on;
- Raises the registration fee for the Medical Cannabis Program to $35. While the fee has remained at $25 for 13 years, the previous legislature had amended the program to up the registration fee to $35 but never officially wrote it into the law.
This bill will not take effect until January 2, 2015. This gives us an opportunity to address these negative changes in the 2014 legislature and remove them from the law.
“For the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. A national survey finds that 52% say that the use of marijuana should be made legal while 45% say it should not.
Support for legalizing marijuana has risen 11 points since 2010. The change is even more dramatic since the late 1960s. A 1969 Gallup survey found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84% were opposed.”
An interesting article that covers the history of marijuana prohibition and eradication efforts in Hawaii, up to this sessions’ bills to rethink laws on marijuana criminalization, safer access to our 13 year-old medical marijuana program, and industrial hemp.
Passed out of the House Health Committee (2-13-13) unanimously (one excused absence). Passed out of House Judiciary Committee (2-28-13) with all members present voting “Yes” or “Yes with Reservation”. Awaiting full House floor vote.
- Allows registered patients or caregivers to provide usable marijuana or any part of the marijuana plant to any other qualifying patient or caregiver as long as no consideration is paid for and that the total amount of marijuana possessed by the recipient does not exceed the adequate supply.
- Caregivers will be allowed to care for up to 3 qualifying patients.
- Qualifying patients shall be immune from searches, seizures, and prosecution for marijuana-related offenses while in the course of transport.
- Out of state qualifying patients who are from states/jurisdictions that allow the medical use of marijuana are authorized to use marijuana while in Hawai‘i as long as they have a valid registry ID card from their home state/jurisdiction.
- Increases the amount that qualifying patients and caregivers are allowed to 5 ounces of usable marijuana (up from 3) and removes the “immature” and “mature” definitions from the law so patients/caregivers are allowed 7 plants, regardless of state of growth.
- Allows reimbursement to caregivers for costs associated with assisting qualifying patients as long as the reimbursement does not include the sale of marijuana.
- Removes identifying information, such as the location of where the marijuana is grown, from registry cards issued to patients and caregivers.
- Physicians do not have to disclose the specific medical condition of their qualifying patients to the controlling state Department but just that the patient qualifies for use of medical marijuana,
- Increases the amount of time for qualifying patients to report any changes of information from 5 days to 10 days.