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Hawaii Legislators Likely to See Many New Medical Marijuana Measures

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A legislative working group in Hawaii is finalizing recommendations for the medical marijuana program moving into 2018. One of the issues presented is allowing patients to travel from island to island with their medicine. Currently, all medical marijuana from a specific island has to stay on that island.

Dispensaries are also responsible for producing all of their own products, according to Honolulu Civil Beat, so one recommendation is expected to be regarding allowing dispensaries to sell products made by other companies. This would give patients more choices of medicine.

The legislative working group is recommending protections for working medical marijuana patients. A previous attempt, in 2015, passed but protections for employed patients were stripped from the measure. The new measure would prevent termination for returning a positive drug test. It’ll be a tough sell, but the legislators supporting the measure are prepared for the heated discussion.

Edibles aren’t legal in Hawaii, but Senator Will Espero has plans to introduce a bill. He’s hoping it will pass and be implemented by the beginning of 2020.

Senator Espero said, “The Department of Health has stated that it is an anti-smoking agency. If the department is against smoking, there has to be another way of ingesting it, right? And that’s where edibles come in.”

Public consumption of medical marijuana is also planned for discussion. Some believe that the accommodation would make it possible for patients to use their medicine regardless of their schedule. It would be more of a decriminalization attempt since public consumption is currently not allowed.

Representative Della Au Belatti said, ““If you’re a patient and you’re going to go out and do your normal business, you’re going to take your medicine at home. This borders on advocates wanting to decriminalize. If we want to decriminalize, let’s have that discussion.”

Senator Espero intends to introduce legislation that will help the University of Hawaii and the Department of Health to collect data regarding patient qualifying conditions, usage, dosage and outcomes of medical marijuana use.

Espero said, “I would like to see one day the University of Hawaii become a premier institution in research and development of medical cannabis.”

The legislative working group is also putting together a list of qualifying conditions to add to the current list. All conditions have to be approved.