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Legislation to Establish A System of Medical Dispensaries in Hawaii

Legislation to establish a system of medical dispensaries in Hawaii, for the state’s nearly 14,000 medical marijuana patients has become law.

Governor David Ige signed the measure, stating, “I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana. We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

House Bill 321 permits the state to issue eight dispensary licenses statewide. A dispensary licensee may establish up to two retail dispensing locations under the licensee’s dispensary license. Licensed dispensaries are anticipated to be operational by July 15, 2016. Once operational, qualified patients will be able to obtain up to four ounces of cannabis or cannabis-infused products, such as oils, tinctures, or lozenges, from a licensed provider every 15 days.

The state Department of Health has until January 4, 2016 to finalize rules governing the dispensary program.

A separate provision included within the House Bill also adds post-traumatic stress as a qualifying condition under the state’s medical cannabis law.

The new law also prohibits counties from enacting zoning regulations that discriminate against licensed dispensaries and production centers; allows the legal transport of medical marijuana in any public place, under certain conditions by qualified patients, primary caregivers or owners/employees of medical marijuana production centers and dispensaries.

Legislation initially enacted by the legislature in 2000 provides qualified patients the legal right to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes, but did not allow for its production and distribution through dispensaries.