Public Hearings on Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary System
By Wendy Osher
The first of two public meetings will be held today (Sept. 10, 2014) to gather public comment on the proposed establishment of a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana.
Today’s hearing takes place at 5 p.m. in Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island at the Aupuni Center.
It comes on the heels of a Dispensary Task Force meeting at the state Capitol yesterday in which members discussed recommendations and reviewed a report on other state medical marijuana programs.
The report entitled, “Is the Grass Always Greener? An Updated Look at Other State Medical Marijuana Programs,” was published by the Legislative Reference Bureau, and included a review of policies and procedures for access, distribution, and security that are being used in other states.
An additional public hearing is scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol Auditorium.
While medical marijuana is legal under state law, there is no legal outlet to purchase it for authorized users.
A Hawaiʻi opinion poll commissioned by Hawaiʻi’s Drug Policy Action Group, and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi found that 85% of Hawaiʻi voters support a dispensary system so patients do not need to use the black market to find their medication, up 7% from 2012.
Last legislative session, House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui expressed support for marijuana dispensaries in the state.
The Dispensary Task Force is expected to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature before the next session.