Hawaii Legislative Update: Medical Marijuana Issues

CannabisThe deadline for filing bills at the Hawaii State legislature is over, and all existing bills have been assigned to their respective committees.

At the beginning of this new legislative session, a majority of Medical Marijuana patients in Hawaii now find themselves under attack.

There are two bills (SB 2026 and HB 1963) which remove chronic pain as a stand-alone condition. If passed, these bills will negatively impact most Medical Marijuana patients in the state of Hawaii.

The bills also would limit the number of registered blue cards at one address to three, and change the penalty for misrepresenting certain information from a misdemeanor to a class C felony.

These bills will impact over 90% of patients.

There are a few good bills, such as SB 2405 which clarifies some issues and allows for the transfer of seeds, clones and/or medicine between patients (for no compensation), SB 2406 which would add PTSD as a qualifying condition, and SB 2262 would amend the patients’ pain bill of rights to include medical cannabis. However, the Committee Chairs have control over which bills get hearings and which do not.

Last year, fewer than 1% of all patients submitted written testimony. We must have greater participation from blue card holders, or risk having the medical cannabis effectively shut down. Please start thinking about your reasons for using cannabis. Personal stories carry greater impact, and even a few lines will help.

Hearings get announced 48-72 hours in advance, so the window of opportunity can be small. However, the new website looks like it will be easy to use, and that may help. Check out www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Please spread the word among other friends who are also patients. We are all in this together, and we must participate or risk losing the right to choose what medicine works best for each of us.

There have been several bills introduced that would seek to urine test people applying for public assistance, which could affect some patients. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Things can move fast, and there are various deadlines that must be met for bills to pass through both chambers, so we will remain vigilant. We will give you as much lead time as we can, and we again ask for your help and cooperation.

Thank you
Matt Rifkin
Andrea Tischler
Co-chairs, Big Island Americans for Safe Access