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Hawaii Governor Intends to Veto Medical Marijuana Expansion

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Governor Ige has indicated that he intends to veto 11 passed bills, with one of them being an expansion to the medical marijuana program. Senate Bill 2407 sought to add opioid addiction, substance abuse and withdrawal symptoms to the list of qualifying conditions. This caught the attention of lawmakers right away.

If Governor Ige does not sign or veto the bill by July 10, it automatically becomes law, The Garden Island reports. Due to the announcement of his intent, a Special Session may convene to ensure that an override of a veto can take place.

Regarding his reason for potentially vetoing Senate Bill 2407, he said, “The Department of Health already has a formal, evidence-based petition process, made available annually to patients and physicians, so patients and physicians can apply to add qualifying conditions to the list of uses for medical cannabis.”

Gov. Ige also does not support legalizing recreational marijuana. Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard and Collene Hanabusa do not agree with the governor’s reasoning.

Hanabusa said, “America is managing an opioid epidemic that is killing an average of 91 Americans a day. Medical cannabis provides similar relief for chronic pain patients without the possibility of a fatal overdose. We need to explore every opportunity to help our citizens who are battling addiction to pain killers and other prescription drugs. This is a life or death issue.”

Gabbard said, “This legislation has the potential to save people’s lives in Hawaii — states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey that have adopted similar policies have seen addiction rates drop and opioid abuse deaths decrease by over 20 percent. Understanding that people’s lives are at stake, I urge Governor Ige to reconsider and sign this legislation into law now.”

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii also opposes the veto. Its statement reads, “This announcement is misguided since Hawaii has the chance to join the vanguard of other states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey in approving medical cannabis against opioid and other substance use. As the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, said when she recently approved the use of medical cannabis against substance use disorders, this is not meant to be a ‘substitute’ for other proven treatments but rather to act as ‘another tool’ against this devastating disease. As a state that pioneered the legalization of medical cannabis, and now has dispensaries serving the patient population, it makes sense that we embrace this kind of progressive outlook rather than bury it in process that will lead to prolonged suffering.”