Hawaii’s Legislature has passed a Medical Marijuana Bill that awaits Governor David Ige’s signature to become law. Based on media reports and comments, there appear to be several misconceptions about the bill.
Myth: A single monopoly will control Hawaii’s dispensaries.
Fact: The law does not require this. Initially, the number of licenses may be limited to three licensees on Oahu, two each on Maui and the Big Island, and one on Kauai. No person may obtain more than one license per county. In addition, the law permits the Department of Health to issue additional licenses beginning in 2017.
Myth: Only a healthcare provider may obtain a medical marijuana dispensary license.
Fact: House Bill 321 has applicant restrictions based on age, residency, and other criteria, but earlier provisions requiring a healthcare provider or a physician were eliminated.
Myth: Only certain medical marijuana products are permitted to be sold by a licensed dispensary.
Fact: House Bill 321 authorizes the sale of marijuana and medical marijuana products. (see HRS 329-121) The manufactured medical marijuana products, however, are specifically limited to capsules, lozenges, and pills, oils or oil extracts, and skin lotions, ointments, and tinctures.
Myth: Large corporate operators headquartered outside Hawaii are likely to dominate Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensary market.
Fact: The law appears to discourage this outcome. House Bill 321 requires the individual applicant to have five years of residence in Hawaii. House Bill 321 also has specific ownership requirements requiring a strong connection to Hawaii.
Stephen Pingree, J.D. www.hawaiimarijuanabusinesslawyer.com