Briefing on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

February 19, 2014, 11:25 AM HST · Updated February 19, 11:59 AM
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Hawai’i Island police dismantled an underground bunker marijuana-growing operation in Puna and arrested two individuals at the Glenwood home after serving a search warrant on Thursday. Police described the building as a sophisticated operation measuring 40 by 80 feet, and containing more than 500 marijuana plants. Photo courtesy Hawai’i Police Department.

File photo courtesy Hawai’i Police Department.

By Wendy Osher

An informational briefing will be held this afternoon to discuss pending house legislation on the proposed legalization of medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaiʻi.

While medical marijuana is legal under state law, there is no legal outlet to purchase it for authorized users.

Representative Della Au Belatti is hosting the meeting and will focus on the status of the transition of the state’s medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health.

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According to a legislative announcement, topics of the briefing will include: the status of rule making; requests for department staff; transition of money into the special fund; issues and recommendations related to access to medical marijuana; and the role and feasibility of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Three individuals, identified by Rep. Au Belatti as having knowledge and expertise in medical marijuana, have been tapped to speak at the briefing including: James Anthony, an Oakland attorney who specializes in medical cannabis dispensary land use law; Sebastapol, CA, Mayor Robert Jacob, who is the founder of Sebastapol’s only dispensary for medical marijuana, Peace in Medicine;  Dr. Charles Webb, a board-certified doctor based in Kailua-Kona and participating physician in the state’s medical marijuana program; and Karl Malivuk, a Honolulu resident and registered medical marijuana patient who has experienced medical marijuana programs in three different states.

Earlier this session, House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui expressed support for marijuana dispensaries in the state.

In the state Senate, the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs last week deferred Senate Bill 2733, a measure that would have legalized marijuana in Hawaiʻi.

“We felt Hawaiʻi was not ready for legalization at this time,” said Senator Will Espero, chair for the committee in a press release statement. “With the passage of legalization bills in Colorado and Washington, however, these states will be test sites to see how legalization impacts the states and their residents.”

A separate measure that seeks to decriminalize marijuana, was passed unanimously and heads to the Judiciary and Labor Committee for further review. Under SB2358, there would be no prison time for offenders in possession of of one ounce or less of marijuana, but a first time offense would result in a $100 fine; second offense $250; and three or more $500.

The committee also advanced Senate Bill 2215, which would provide limited immunity to individuals who seek medical assistance for alcohol or drug-related overdoses during an emergency.

Espero described the measure as “a good Samaritan bill”  that provides medical amnesty to those who call 911 when someone is overdosing. That measure has also been referred to the Judiciary and Labor Committee for further review.

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