What: SB686 Hearing
When: Thursday, January 31, 9:00 a.m.-11:25 a.m.
Where: Lumi ' Council 016 / Conference Room 016, State Capitol, 415 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96813
Voice your support by providing oral or written testimony! Those wishing to provide oral testimony will be limited to two minutes. If you testify, please be polite and respectful, dress in business or business casual attire, and avoid repeating points that have already been made. You can always briefly note you agree with previous supportive testimony, and ask the committee to approve SB686.
You can also provide written testimony here.
After the hearing, be sure to ask your lawmakers to support replacing marijuana prohibition with thoughtful regulation. Ending prohibition would reduce the number of marijuana-related arrests, displace the illicit marijuana market, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
It's past time adults be allowed to use a substance that is safer than alcohol. With your help, Hawaii can take a more thoughtful approach to marijuana.
Earlier this year, the Hawaii Legislature overwhelmingly approved SB 2407, which would allow opioid and substance use disorders, and their symptoms, to be treated with medical cannabis if a physician recommends it. But last week, Gov. David Ige announced he intends to veto this compassionate bill.
Medical cannabis can ease the devastating symptoms of opiate withdrawal and make it easier for individuals to stay on treatment regimens. For some, this is an issue of life or death.
The governor has until July 10 to act on the bill. If you are a resident of Hawaii, please call Gov. Ige at 808-586-0034 or send him an email to urge him to reconsider. We’ve provided some talking points and a draft email message to make the process easy.
H.B. 1488 adds rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis to the list of qualifying conditions and allows patients and caregivers to access testing facilities. Patients and caregivers will be allowed to cultivate three additional plants of any maturity, for a total of 10 plants. The phasing out of caregivers’ ability to grow marijuana plants for patients has been pushed back five years, to the end of 2023.
The new law, which goes into effect on June 29, also authorizes the Department of Health to permit current licensees to open one additional dispensary — for a possible total of 24 statewide — and allows them to cultivate more plants at their production sites. It also amends certain deadlines and relaxes overly restrictive laboratory standards to accelerate implementation.
With the updated regulations, laboratories should find it easier to meet the requirements for certification. Several dispensaries are ready to start serving patients but cannot do so until they can submit their products for the required testing.
Congratulations and thank you to Gov. Ige, the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, and all of the advocates and lawmakers who made these improvements possible.
On Tuesday, two key medical marijuana bills were signed into law by Hawaii Gov. David Ige. While we already knew the bills would not be vetoed, we are thrilled the governor decided to personally support these compassionate proposals by signing them into law instead of allowing them to become law without his signature.
One of the bills, HB 321, creates a medical marijuana dispensary system. The law allows, initially, eight medical cannabis businesses (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two dispensing locations each. Starting in 2017, the health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.
The other bill, SB 1291, strengthens existing civil protections for medical marijuana patients and adds new protections. Landlords, schools, and courts may no longer discriminate against medical marijuana patients!
On Monday, June 29, Hawaii Gov. David Ige released his list of bills that he intends to veto. Thankfully, legislation creating a medical marijuana distribution program was not on this list, meaning HB 321 will become law with or without Gov. Ige’s signature!
HB 321 builds on Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, which was approved by the legislature back in 2000. Since that time, most state medical marijuana programs have either been written to include a regulated system for patients to obtain their medicine, or have been amended to so. In fact, enactment of HB 321 will mean that only two of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs will fail to include regulated access to medicine the seriously ill are able to use.
HB 321 will initially allow eight medical cannabis businesses (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two dispensing locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each, as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.
This good news would not have been possible without the wonderful work by our allies at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, and individuals across the state who reached out to lawmakers to ensure passage.
The Hawaiian legislative conference committee working out the differences in medical marijuana dispensary programs proposed by the House and Senate has come to an agreement.
HB 321 will initially allow eight dispensaries (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai). Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.
But first things first — both chambers must agree to this final language. If you are a Hawaii resident, please email your lawmakers in Honolulu today in support of HB 321!
Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Rob Kampia, discusses what’s next for the push to make marijuana legal in the United States:
The state that will most likely be next to legalize is Rhode Island, which would be the first to do so via state legislature. Also this spring, the District of Columbia is expected to enact a similar law through its city council.
There's also a real opportunity to legalize marijuana through five more state legislatures between now and 2017 – Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Vermont. There will also be serious legislative activity in other states, such as New York, but it is less clear when such legislation will pass.
In November 2016, at least five states are expected to vote on similar ballot initiatives – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – and one could potentially appear on the ballot in Missouri.
By the end of 2017, marijuana could be legalized in 15 states and D.C., which would comprise 26% of the nation's population.
Read the rest of Kampia’s column here.
“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in passing legalization in Colorado and bankrolled the successful campaign in Alaska.
The five states where MPP has already established committees to push ballot measures in 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The measures will likely be similar to the Colorado model, just as the measures in Oregon and Alaska were.
MPP also plans to work to help make marijuana legal through state legislatures, rather than ballot measures. The states that we are focusing on include Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland.
Most importantly, the upcoming push to make marijuana legal in those states will undoubtedly draw on the lessons learned from the successful marijuana policy reform campaigns so far — which, according to Tvert, fall into two categories. The advocates in Alaska and Colorado focused more on diminishing the fears concerned with the potential harms of marijuana by comparing the substance to alcohol, while advocates in Oregon and Washington argued that making marijuana legal is the safer alternative to marijuana prohibition.
“Our goal from the beginning was to get this message across that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol so that when that last month comes around, and the opponents are trying to scare people away from marijuana by saying it’s so dangerous, their reaction will be to say ‘yeah, but it’s less harmful than alcohol,’” Tvert stated.
Ultimately, by the looks of Tuesday’s election results, marijuana prohibition is on its way out. Moreover, momentum for sensible marijuana policy reform is growing across the country.
The Marijuana Policy Project filed a committee with the California Secretary of State’s Office today to support a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.
The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will start raising funds immediately to help place a measure on the ballot.
According to a statement from MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia:
“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible. Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.”
The announcement has generated quite a bit of media interest, which began with a mention in a Washington Post story summarizing the statewide efforts currently underway to end marijuana prohibition.
It noted MPP has filed committees in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Nevada for 2016, and it plans to focus on making marijuana legal through state legislatures in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont over the next few years.
On Thursday, February 13, the Senate Committees on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, and Commerce and Consumer Protection will meet to hear three marijuana-related bills. Two of these bills will bring needed sensibility to Hawaii’s marijuana laws, while the third would erode patient protections and needs to be pushed back against.
The two good bills are SB 2358 and SB 2733. SB 2358 will make possession of a small amount of marijuana a civil infraction, as opposed to a criminal charge. Hawaii residents can submit testimony in support of this bill using talking points provided by Fresh Approach Hawaii. SB 2733 would go a step further by legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. Supportive testimony for this legislation is needed as well; talking points can be found here.
Meanwhile, we need all those interested in protecting medical marijuana patients’ rights to submit testimony in opposition to SB 2402, a bill that would take away protections for patients who possess and use marijuana concentrates. This is unacceptable; many patients need concentrated marijuana in order to relieve their symptoms. If you are a Hawaii resident, please submit testimony in opposition to this plan using the talking points provided by MCCHI.