Hawaii Sees Tsunami of Marijuana Bills

HI Gov Neil Abercombie

No fewer than 16 bills directly related to the use of cannabis were introduced in the state legislature during the last couple of weeks. Lawmakers seek to increase oversight of the medical marijuana industry while addressing access and legal protections for patients and caregivers, as well as illegal marijuana use.

Hawaii has been a medical marijuana state since 2000. Several bills would establish a state-regulated distribution program, including licensing of producers and processors.

One bill, SB 58, increases the patient-to-caregiver ratio and the amount of cannabis permitted per patient or caregiver. It would also enhance patient confidentiality and clarify that the Department of Public Safety may not require more information than required by law. The department also could not require that the patient’s certifying physician be the patient’s primary care physician. Another bill, SB 175, would take jurisdiction of medical marijuana laws out of the hands of the Department of Public Safety altogether, assigning oversight to the Department of Health.

HB 1169 redefines “Debilitating medical condition” and “written certification.” It also clarifies legal protections for patients or primary caregivers and adds penalties for fraudulent misrepresentation. SB 175 would also amend the definition of “written certification.”

Addressing marijuana as a drug, SB 174 would move marijuana and its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), from the current classification of Schedule I controlled substances to schedule III. And HB 1624 establishes a three-year pilot medical marijuana research program.

Meanwhile, unrelated to medical marijuana, some lawmakers want to reduce the penalties of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to no more than $100 (SB 1460) or $500 (HB 544). A few bills direct the attorney general to review moving marijuana drug offenders into treatment programs.

Source: Hawaii State Legislature

Medical Marijuana Laws under Siege

Marijuana Under Siege

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws. Will there still be fifteen states by the end of the year?

Two states – Montana and New Mexico – face unprecedented calls for outright repeal of their medical marijuana laws.

GOP lawmakers who dominate the legislature in Montana have been circulating an essay, entitled “Why Montana’s Medical Marijuana Law Should Be Repealed”. Montana NORML’s John Masterson informs West Coast Leaf this essay was created by the state’s coordinator of drug courts.

The author alleges that Montana’s medical marijuana program has led to increased “criminal involvement… intoxicated driving crashes and fatalities… use of marijuana by their children… lost productivity by their state’s workforce… unsafe working conditions… amount of drugs consumed on a regular basis by each user… and the need for more psychiatric and addictive disease treatment.”

None of these allegations are true, according to Montana state statistics. Since medical marijuana passed in 2004 to 2009, Montana’s crime index has declined 15.8%, the fewest people died in auto fatalitiesteenage marijuana use dropped 28.7%, gross domestic product outpaced national averages, workplace injuries declined, workplace fatalities dropped, overall marijuana use fell, and fewer people attended rehab with marijuana as their “primary substance”.

Regardless, Montana’s six-year-old law faces a repeal threat from Speaker of the House Mike Milburn (R) who remarked “Voters did vote for the [compassionate use] initiative but it wasn’t for what happened.”

An advocacy group, Safe Community Safe Kids, is lobbying lawmakers and the public that the medical marijuana law “is not a law that can be fixed.”

New Mexico’s four-year-old program, signed into law by former Governor Bill Richardson (D) is now under threat of repeal from new Governor Susana Martinez (R).

As reported by Associated Press, Gov. Martinez “said during her campaign the state law puts state employees in the position of violating federal law and she’d like it repealed.” The Governor has since said pressing budget issues will likely forestall her wish for medical marijuana repeal for now.

Two more states face problems in beginning their programs. New Jersey and Arizona in 2010 both passed medical marijuana laws but regulations and taxes threaten the effectiveness of those laws.

Former Gov. Jon Corzine (D) signed New Jersey’s medical marijuana law as one of his last official acts. Incoming Gov. Chris Christie (R) opposed the law and has now promulgated strict regulations to make the program unworkable.

Some of Gov. Christie’s proposals include limiting state dispensary production of cannabis to only three strains with a mandated cap of 10% on cannabinoid content, limiting medical marijuana use only to cases where all other medications have been tried and failed, forbidding medicated edibles, and requiring doctors to wean patients off of cannabis.

In Arizona, Rep. Steve Farley (D) is proposing taxing medicine sold in dispensaries at 300%. This tax virtually guarantees dispensary cannabis will be sold at rates greater than found on the underground market.

You can learn about the cannabis politics in your state at The NORML Stash Blog, http://stash.norml.org.

Russ Belville

Hawaii Sees Tsunami of Marijuana Bills

Hawaii MMJ Info Briefing

No fewer than 16 bills directly related to the use of cannabis were introduced in the state legislature during the last couple of weeks. Lawmakers seek to increase oversight of the medical marijuana industry while addressing access and legal protections for patients and caregivers, as well as illegal marijuana use.

Hawaii has been a medical marijuana state since 2000. Several bills would establish a state-regulated distribution program, including licensing of producers and processors.

One bill, SB 58, increases the patient-to-caregiver ratio and the amount of cannabis permitted per patient or caregiver. It would also enhance patient confidentiality and clarify that the Department of Public Safety may not require more information than required by law. The department also could not require that the patient’s certifying physician be the patient’s primary care physician. Another bill, SB 175, would take jurisdiction of medical marijuana laws out of the hands of the Department of Public Safety altogether, assigning oversight to the Department of Health.

HB 1169 redefines “Debilitating medical condition” and “written certification.” It also clarifies legal protections for patients or primary caregivers and adds penalties for fraudulent misrepresentation. SB 175 would also amend the definition of “written certification.”

Addressing marijuana as a drug, SB 174 would move marijuana and its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), from the current classification of Schedule I controlled substances to schedule III. And HB 1624 establishes a three-year pilot medical marijuana research program.

Meanwhile, unrelated to medical marijuana, some lawmakers want to reduce the penalties of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to no more than $100 (SB 1460) or $500 (HB 544). A few bills direct the attorney general to review moving marijuana drug offenders into treatment programs.

Source: Hawaii State Legislature