The student newspaper of Honolulu Community College

Just say now to marijuana?

Veer-Guest-House-by-Flickr-Creative-Commons-user-Pablo-EvansKaleo Gagne
Kā La Staff

Is there a possibility to legalize marijuana in Hawaii anytime soon?

The state Legislature this year is actually considering several bills that would either legalize or decriminalize marijuana in the state – or at least make it legal for card-carrying medical marijuana patients to buy their weed legally.

Many people many not know that Hawaii has had a law for 13 years allowing for the possession of medical marijuana.  But even those patients can’t legally buy the drug anywhere.

Then-Gov. Ben Cayetano signed the medical marijuana law on June 14, 2000.  That law removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana for patients who were diagnosed by a physician with a covered disease< which included cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity, and nausea.

With this law patients were able to possess up to 3 ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. That law established a mandatory, confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients.

But patients still had no legal way to buy the marijuana.


Las year Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed two separate measures dealing with medical marijua.

The first measure transferred the administration of the state’s medicinal cannabis program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health, and established a special fund for the program within the state treasury. The second measure, increased the quantity of medicinal marijuana that may be possessed from three ounces to four,  and increased the total number of mature plants that may be legally grown by qualified patients from three plants to seven. This law will take into effect in 2015.

But now that two states, Oregon and Washington, have legalized marijuana sales for everyone, not just medical patients, is there a chance that more changes could be in the works for Hawaii, too?

Officials at the state Legislature, say one idea that has a chance of becoming law soon would create medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. HB 1587 and HB 1710 are two bills that will allow such action to take place.

A recent poll by the  Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii showed  that 85 percent of people are in support for this kind of bill reform.

HB 1587 has been referred to committees on health, judiciary and finance, but as of mid-February had not been scheduled for a public hearing, which is necessary if it is to move forward.

Another bill, HB 1708,  would go even further.  That bill calls for Hawaii to decriminalize and regulate small amount of marijuana and establish a licensing scheme for the cultivation, sale and use of small amounts of marijuana, and let the state tax those sales.

The bill says that  the legalization of marijuana for personal or recreational use would be “a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the current science of marijuana and attitude toward marijuana.”

Of course, not everyone agrees and it’s not likely that the Legislature will go that far this year. But the discussion has begun.


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