Governor Ige Signs Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Into Law

July 15, 2015, 2:37 PM HST · Updated July 15, 2:38 PM
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Employees inspect marijuana plants at Green Man Cannabis growing facility in Colorado. Photo credit: Green Man Cannabis.

Employees inspect marijuana plants at Green Man Cannabis growing facility in Colorado. File photo credit: Green Man Cannabis.

By Wendy Osher

Governor David Ige today signed Hawaiʻi’s medical marijuana dispensary bill into law.

Under the new law, eight dispensary licenses will be permitted in the state, including two in Maui County.

There are an estimated 13,000 qualified patients throughout the state who are listed as medical marijuana card holders.

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Governor Ige said the challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective, and easy to monitor.

The new law also prohibits counties from enacting zoning regulations that discriminate against licensed dispensaries and production centers; and allows for 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.

In announcing the new law Governor Ige said, “I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana.”  With timelines established under the bill, Governor Ige said, “We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

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The American Civil Liberties Union was among the groups that had advocated for the bill’s passage.  The ACLU lauded the governor’s actions today, along with Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaiʻi Executive Director Carl Bergquist who called the legislative progress on the matter a “diligent effort.”

The governor also signed the controversial rail tax bill, asking Honolulu Rail Transit for an annual report.  House Bill 134 authorizes the counties to extend by another five years, the half-percentage point surcharge on the state tax to continue funding the city’s $6 billion rail transit project. The surcharge will be effective until Dec. 31, 2027.

Despite concerns over cost overages, Gov. Ige said, “The primary reason I signed this bill is because we made a commitment years ago, and we must keep this commitment to see rail to its completion.”

He issued a statement in a press release saying, “The excise tax is an investment by the taxpayers of Hawai‘i and my job is to ensure that their hard earned money is being spent efficiently, effectively and productively. To this end, I hereby ask Honolulu Rail Transit (HART) to provide me with an annual progress report on revenue, costs and progress of the rail project. This report will be shared with not only my administration, but with the legislature and the public, and it will be measured against specific goals and targets.”

On Tuesday, Governor Ige vetoed eight bills and sent his statements of objections to the house and senate leadership.

Four other bills will become law without the governor’s signature.  They include the following:

  • HB541 Relating to the University of Hawaiʻi Tuition and Fees Special Fund:  Requires each UH campus to prepare an operations plan, to be reviewed by the President and VP for Budget and Finance and CFO of UH, for each fiscal year.
  • SB1092 Relating to the Repeal of Non-General Funds: Repeals or reclassifies various non-general funds in accordance with the Auditor’s recommendations in Auditor’s Report Nos. 14-05 and 14-13.
  • SB1297 Relating to Disposition of Tax Revenues: Amends the cigarette tax and tobacco tax law by changing the amount allocated to the trauma system special fund, and establishing maximum dollar amounts that shall be distributed among certain non-general funds after June 30,2015.
  • SB118 Relating to Real Estate Investment Trusts: Requires, and appropriates funds for, DBEDT, with the assistance of DOTAX, to study the impact of real estate investment trusts in Hawaiʻi.

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