Governor in Hawaii signs medical marijuana bills

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June 28, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed two bills into law on June 25, 2013 relating to the state's policy regarding medical marijuana.[1][2][3]

House Bill 668 effectively authorizes the transfer of the medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health and establishes a Medical Marijuana Registry special fund.[1]

Senate Bill 642, amends the definitions of “adequate supply,” “medical use,” “primary caregiver,” “usable marijuana,” and “written certification.”[3] The measure allows the medical use of marijuana if the amount of marijuana possessed by the qualifying patient does not exceed an “adequate supply.” This language effectively adjusts the type and amount of medical marijuana a patient can legally possess, according to advocates of the legislation.[1] The bill increases the quantity of medical marijuana that may be possessed by qualified patients from three ounces to four ounces. The measure also increases the total number of mature plants that may be legally grown by qualified patients at any one time from three to seven.[3][1]

A separate provision added to SB 642 in conference committee places potential limits on which physicians may be eligible to recommend medical marijuana as an option, though this provision is expected to be further debated in the 2014 legislative session.[1]

The bill also amends registration requirements and allows inquiries by law enforcement agencies regarding registration status to be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Under SB642, the Department of Health (DOH) is required to immediately verify, upon inquiry, whether the subject of an inquiry is registered with DOH.[1][3]

Health Committee Chair Representative Della Au Belatti issued a statement regarding the newly signed bills saying, “Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states...By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the state can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”[3]

Both bills will go into effect in January of 2015.[3][1] The bills were Hawaii’s first changes to its medical marijuana laws since their inception 13 years ago.[3]

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