Hawaii now has just over 24,000 registered medical marijuana patients. About 3% qualify under HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, lupus and epilepsy. There are now 8 dispensaries on all of the islands combined to assist the state’s patients.
The Health Department says that 20,426 patients qualify under the severe pain category, Hawaii News Now reports. The number of those receiving certifications for severe pain has one state representative concerned. He questions whether these recommendations are given out too easily.
Representative John Mizuno said, “Just about anybody can go in and see a doctor and say, ‘I’ve got severe pain’. “
Mizuno belongs to the House Health Committee, which is currently studying medical marijuana use in Hawaii.
In regards to these recommendations being given out for more patients with severe pain than any other condition, it’s expected that more attention will be given to the doctors that are writing these recommendations.
Mizuno said, “That’s what we did with opioid abuse. We tracked which doctors were giving out high (numbers of prescriptions).”
Nurse practitioners, along with physicians, are permitted to write recommendations in Hawaii.
Carl Bergquist of Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii disagrees with Mizuno.
Bergquist said, “Pain is all too common in our society, so these numbers make sense. In fact, with more education, access and awareness we expect them to keep increasing. We want patients to comply with the law and grow their own or to purchase the safe and tested products from the dispensaries. Far too many patients suffer in silence or rely on more powerful and addictive drugs. Ideally, a health care professional should be able to certify any person, regardless of specific condition, for the use of medical cannabis if the benefits outweigh the risks.”
The Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii thinks that kids are going to get the wrong message about marijuana. Kids are taught that using cigarettes is dangerous. The coalition isn’t necessarily against medical marijuana, they just the right education passed onto children about it.
Greg Tjapkes of the coalition said, “Kids got that message, but they’re seeing marijuana as medicine or as something good for you, so they’re trying that or experimenting with that instead.”
Changes are coming to Hawaii’s medical marijuana program such as allowing out-of-state patients and an improved electronic registration card. Lawmakers failed to pass recreational marijuana legalization, but decriminalization efforts are still alive in the House.