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Hawaii: Governor Signs Measures Amending State’s Medical Cannabis Program


hawaii medical marijuana house bill 668By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Democrat Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday signed two separate measures into law to amend the state’s 13-year-old medical marijuana program.

House Bill 668 transfers the administration of the state’s medicinal cannabis program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health. It also establishes a special fund for the program within the state treasury.

Senate Bill 642 increases the quantity of medical cannabis that may be possessed by qualified patients from three ounces to four ounces. The measure also increases the total number of mature plants that may be legally grown by qualified patients at any one time from three to seven.

A separate provision added to SB 642 in conference committee places potential limits on which physicians may be eligible to recommend cannabis, though this provision is expected to be further debated in the 2014 legislative session.

Stated Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, which was a primary advocate for the bills: “In 2000, Hawaii led the nation as the first state to legislatively establish our medical marijuana program. Now, a total of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have programs. Finally, 13 years down the road, Hawaii is moving toward patient-focused policies and away from a law enforcement approach. These bills do not address every concern, but are the first real steps toward a more sensible public policy — we are encouraged and will redouble our efforts next legislative session.”

Advocates are expected to push in 2014 for the establishment of state-sponsored cannabis production and dispensing facilities, which are now operational in several other states, including Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont. According to a 2012 QMark Research poll, 78 percent of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.

The changes in law will become effective in January 2015.

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Johnny Green


  1. No, there is no initiative process in HI. Plus, the voter turnout sucks so I doubt they could pass it even if it could get to a public vote. Politically, HI is much more moderate Republican in their thinking than their voting suggests based on my personal experiences there.

    Frankly, I’m just shocked Abercrombie actually did something as Gov.

  2. Stoned Hinge on

    Hawaii needs to take a vote in 2014 on full legalization. Does Hawaii have a ballot initiative process? I read where the same recent QMark poll found Hawaii 57% in favor or legalizing. A public vote would have a very good chance of passage if it imposed reasonable taxes and regulations.

  3. I’d love Hawaii a lot more if they legalize rather than just “decriminalize”. Decriminalization is a just a kindler gentler form of prohibition. Many Hawaii residents struggle with Hawaii’s high cost of living and do not always have $1,000 to throw away if caught with possession. And why is it that states like Hawaii and California where pakalolo is revered are also the same places that are so resistant to full scale adult use legalization?

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