Today I attended the latest conference committee meeting between the House and Senate to discuss SB 1458, SD2, HD3, which aims to establish a medical marijuana dispensary pilot program in the state of Hawai`i.
I have looked over the proposed bill, and IMHO it’s getting worse and worse. As at the meeting last week, Senator Green presented the Senate draft. He did not have copies for the other conferees so they didn’t have much info to go on.
Here’s what he said:
He is concerned about abuse of the program as demonstrated by all the young people who have registered, He said that 50% of those on the Big Island are under age 30 and 500 people on the Big Island are under 21. Said he intends to “clean up the law.”
He wants the Department of Health to create a single dispensary based on where their analysis shows the medical need is highest. He says it should focus on those with cancer, m.s., and other neuromuscular disorders. The bill would therefore amend the list of qualifying conditions by deleting severe pain, severe nausea. and Crohn’s disease. There is a 60 day grace period so that those with a current card whose condition is no longer eligible have 2 months before they have to turn in their card since they no longer qualify.
He said there will be a significant licensing fee of about $30K, an out of state rate of $100, and it will not address the transportation issue. He said Public Safety and the Department of Health would have to “collaborate”. Under his bill, DOH licenses the single pilot program dispensary and PSD retains the patient registry.
Rep. Yamane, speaking for the House, said he wants to “continue the discussion” since it’s gotten this far. If the 2 year pilot goes well, he would look at data and then proceed from there. He said some areas would be problematic for a dispensary site and suggested the establishment of “Weed and Seed” zones.
The draft bill itself says that the pilot program shall be established “no later than Aug. 7, 2012.” The specific site for the pilot will be “designated by the Governor.”
It still prohibits medical marijuana from being transported out of the island where the “compassion center” is located. In addition to the initial licensing fee of $30,000, there shall be an annual fee of $25,000 and an annual renewal fee in the same amount.
- licensees must be a non-profit entity
- edibles etc shall be regulated by DOH & the federal Food and Drug Administration. Sen. Green said last week that the FDA reference is coming out. [They would be unable to take part due to the federal scheduling of cannabis.]
- in addition to regular sales tax, an additional 15% tax shall be assessed on “gross proceeds of sales.”
- the facility shall be no closer than 600 yards from schools.
- “The pilot project shall cease to exist no later than 2 years after date of implementation, unless the legislature authorizes its continuation or expansion prior to the expiration of the pilot program.”
So there, you have it folks. Is this better than nothing? Not in my opinion. I think the Senate has bend over backwards to appease the voiced concerns of law enforcement and the House.
The next meeting of the conference committee is Thursday, April 28 at 1:30pm. I suggest that interested parties should contact Senator Green’s office and let him know your thoughts.
There are ways in which this bill would be worse than the current situation since only patients on one island would have access AND the types of eligible conditions would be severely curtailed.