Law & Legislation | Hoping for Aloha: Proposed Medical Cannabis in Hawaii

Law & Legislation | Hoping for Aloha: Proposed Medical Cannabis in Hawaii


Medical cannabis consumers in the tropical state of Hawaii hope to say “Aloha” to expanded access to medical cannabis. Thanks to House Bill 1488, the legislation necessary to help expand Hawaii’s growing medical cannabis program was successfully passed by the initial Senate committee. This is a promising step in the right direction, as House Bill 1488 has already passed the Full House of Representatives. Hawaii has faced many different obstacles with cannabis legalization. One of the most confusing obstacles regards laboratory testing. For cannabis to be accessible to citizens that live on each of the Hawaiian Islands, each island would be required to have its own certified laboratory testing facility. These testing facilities are extremely expensive, and would outweigh the cost they would bring in. Allowing transportation of cannabis to be tested in a lab will help expand Hawaii’s current medicinal cannabis program exponentially. A Bill That Fit the People’s Will House Bill 1488 will amend the definition of “adequate supply” to include seven marijuana seedlings. House Bill 1488 would also amend the definition of the term “transport,” specifically permitting primary caregivers and qualified patients the right to transport up to a gram of medicinal cannabis under certain conditions, for laboratory testing. It also would amend the definition of debilitating medical condition and clarify conditions supported. Those conditions would include: lupus, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and autism. As of March 24th, 2017, the official report from the Senate recommends the passing on a second reading as amended. This deal has seen great progress, as it was only introduced on January 25th of 2017, where it received its first reading. Despite a hazy cloud of smoke from the United States federal government, this bill is a positive sign of progress for the cannabis industry in Hawaii. Expanding the medical cannabis program will allow greater access to the plant for medical cannabis patients to reside in Hawaii. As of 2015, Hawaii has an estimated population of just over 1.43 million people. All residents—whether they are consumers or not—are in a position to benefit from the expansion of the cannabis industry. The potential tax revenue is enormous. If steps continue to be taken towards the expansion of the medical cannabis program, perhaps recreational cannabis will soon be on Hawaii’s horizon. A Tropical Paradise Like No Other Imagine the tourism boom Hawaii would experience with legal cannabis. If Hawaii’s tourism industry aims to keep pace with Florida’s and that of other tropical states, they’ll have to consider legalizing cannabis in the future. As these states are seeing, both tourists and retirees will choose to visit and move to states such as Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, where recreational cannabis is legal, even over the abundant sunshine and allure of the tropic life. For now, House Bill 1488 is a step in the right direction, showing that Hawaii is putting cannabis on the map and solidifying the future of access to medicinal cannabis for the residents of the state.

James Priest


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