Hawaiʻi Medical Marijuana Users Urged to Renew Before Dec. 12 Blackout

December 3, 2014, 8:07 AM HST · Updated December 3, 8:08 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 Hawaii Police Department.

File photo courtesy Hawaiʻi Police Department.

By Maui Now Staff

Hawaiʻi residents whose medical marijuana certification expires by the end of December are urged to renew their certification with the Department of Public Safety before Dec. 12, 2014.

Although federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, Hawaiʻi is one of 23 states and the District of Columbia that has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, acknowledging the health benefits of medical marijuana use, according to the state Department of Health.

DOH officials say a patient with a debilitating medical condition must obtain a physician’s signed medical statement that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks before applying for a written certification from the Department of Public Safety.

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The medical marijuana program in Hawaiʻi has been in operation for 14 years but is being transferred to the Department of Health, effective Jan. 1, 2015. In preparation for this transition, state health officials say there will be a planned blackout period from Dec. 12 to 31 in which no certifications will be issued.

Certifications allow for the lawful cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes, cost $25, and are good for 12 months.  To avoid potential legal action, the certification must be available to law enforcement officials at any time.

Under Act 177, medical marijuana applications will be submitted through an online process to the Department of Health and the registration fee will increase to $38.50 on Jan. 1, 2015.

For questions about the transition, patients can call the Medical Marijuana Information Hotline for recorded messages at 733-­2177. Toll free numbers have also been established for neighbor island residents: Maui, 984­2400, ext. 32177; Hawaiʻi Island 974­-4000, ext. 32177; and Kauaʻi 274­-3141, ext. 32177.

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