Governor signs bill to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii.
Hawaii Governor David Ige signed into law a bill that for the first time will allow for a system of medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for the last 15 years, however patients haven’t had dispensaries to purchase from, instead they had to either grow it themselves or have a caregiver do it for them.
House Bill 321, which is now Act 241, laid out the structure for a dispensary system that would allow for up to sixteen dispensary locations across the state of Hawaii.
“I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana,” Said Ige. “We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”
The new law provides for up to eight dispensary licenses statewide with two dispensary locations allowed per license. Three licenses will be issued on Oahu, two on Maui, another two on the Big Island, and one for Kauai. The dispensaries will be able to open as soon as July 15, 2016.
“Imagine being diagnosed with a debilitating disease, then being told that one of the medicines recommended by your doctor is only available if you grow it, or buy it – untested, uncertified – on the underground market,” said Carl Bergquist, who is the executive director of the Drug Policy Action Group. “It sounds absurd, yet – without legal dispensaries – this has been daily life for 13,000 – plus registered patients in Hawaiiʻs medical marijuana program.”
He went on to say: “Act 241 is the single greatest leap forward for Hawaiiʻs medical marijuana program since its inception in 2000 – and better fulfills the original, compassionate intent of the program.”