Hawaii was among the first ten of the United States to legalize cannabis for medical use in 2000. The Aloha State’s medical marijuana bill was the first to be passed legislatively, and now, nearly fifteen years later, legislation is being drafted that will establish a system to license and regulate medical marijuana cultivators and retailers.

Currently, there are more than 13,000 registered medical marijuana patients in Hawaii. Aside from cultivating at home, these patients do not have safe, reliable access to medicine. State Rep. Della Au Belatti, House Health Committee chairperson, is leading the Medical Marijuana Task Force responsible for the new legislation. The bill is expected to be filed when the state legislature reconvenes in late January 2015.

The medical marijuana dispensary proposal is expected to establish the Department of Health as the regulatory body in charge of determining the ideal number of retailer licenses. Each county would be home to at least one dispensary, with the ideal ratio being 1 retailer per 500 registered patients. Dispensary license applications would cost $20,000 with $2,000 of that being a non-refundable deposit. License renewal fees would total $30,000 each year.

This bill will also establish a licensing and regulatory system for up to 30 cannabis cultivators and production facilities. It would allow each producer to cultivate up to 1,000 plants.

The Medical Marijuana Task Force is requesting that $510,000 of the state’s General Fund be allocated to establish this program with the funds to be paid back once application and licensing fees have been collected. This also expects that the licensing process will begin no later than January 2017, so that dispensaries could potentially open doors of operation by July 2017.

Establishing a system to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii will not only allow patients safe access to medicine, it will also stimulate local economies and introduce new jobs.

Find out how to become a registered medical marijuana patient in Hawaii here.


photo credit: nbcmiami

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