If the Hawaii House of Representatives passes this bill, this state could allow non-residents access to medical marijuana. After the first dispensary opened last August, the state is looking to give out-of-state resident access to cannabis throughout the islands.
What Will This Bill Allow?
The Hawaii Senate Committee on Ways and Means passed House Bill 2729 on Thursday. In January, Hawaii officially began allowing out of state medical marijuana patients to buy weed from medical marijuana dispensaries. However, the state requires a system to register these out-of-state cardholders in order for them to buy cannabis. Until now, lawmakers had yet to create such a program.
The bill proposed this week would create a structure so non-residents can buy medical marijuana. This program will be reciprocal, meaning that out-of-state residents can purchase medical marijuana in Hawaii, and Hawaii-residents can do the same out of state.
What Will Out-Of-State Residents Be Able To Buy?
If this bill passes, Non-Hawaii residents will be able to buy half what is allowed for in-state residents. The trade association, representing Hawaii’s dispensaries, testified, “This should help to minimize the concern about an out-of-state patient obtaining a large quantity of product.”
Out-of-state buyers will also need to pay a $45 state registration fee to the Hawaii Department of Health.
Why Is This Bill So Significant?
Many are hoping that the legislature passes the bill meaning that this state could allow non-residents access to medical marijuana. Maui Grown Therapies director of community relations and patient affairs Teri Gorman explained the sheer volume of patients looking for medical marijuana treatment.
A notice on Maui Grown Therapies’ website explains that the policy allowing for non-resident treatment hasn’t gone into effect. Despite this, Gorman said, “we have received 178 email inquiries from out-of-state patients and our staff has answered more than 300 telephone queries over the past four months.”
Many of the people looking for medical marijuana suffer from serious conditions. “Mentioned most often [in the emails and calls] are cancer/chemotherapy, severe pain, and end-of-life care. Compassion dictates that Hawaii develop a program to serve visiting patients without further delay,” Gorman explains.
With Hawaii’s booming tourism industry and distance from the other 49 states, the number of out-of-state residents to benefit from such a program would be considerable.
Hawaii’s Dispensaries Are In Favor Of The Bill
Not only are out-of-state residents advocating for access to medical marijuana, but Hawaii’s eight dispensaries advocate for the bill. They issued a joint statement through the trade program, which is made up of all eight medical marijuana businesses:
“[The bill] would enhance the medical cannabis dispensary program with additional patient access, product controls and safety, and provide improvements to the administration of the program.”
Final Hit: This State Could Allow Non-Residents Access to Medical Marijuana
There was a considerable delay between approving out-of-state medical marijuana purchases in January to proposing this bill. This suggests that it will take time before Hawaii allows non-residents, even those in need, access to the permits required.
Hawaii legalized medical marijuana last year, though the process hasn’t been without controversy. In August, Maui’s first medical marijuana clinic closed temporarily because demand far exceeded supply. Later last year, the police forced medical marijuana patients in Honolulu to turn in their guns.
As the majority of states implement medical marijuana programs and more and more move towards legalization, state lawmakers are scrambling to implement programs for everything from taxation to who can buy medical marijuana.
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