Hawaii Introduces New Marijuana Policies to Improve Accessibility

The Governor has signed a bill, that seeks to make medical cannabis more accessible to residents, into law. The legislation introduces new policies to improve the distribution and production of legitimate cannabis and cannabis products in the state Medical Cannabis Program.

In the United States, Hawaii was the first state to make medical cannabis lawful through the state legislature. Since then, the state has been dedicated to improving the program for users and other stakeholders.

The HB 2260 bill sponsored by Rep. Ryan Yamane passed through the Senate unopposed and was also accepted by the House with only one vote against it. After being signed into law by the Governor, the new policies will take effect much later.

Existing laws permitted the inter-island transportation of cannabis between state-registered dispensaries and between a production center/retail dispensary and a qualified laboratory for assessment. The new policies add more parties to increase the accessibility of medical cannabis to eligible individuals. Cannabis transportation will now be lawful between eligible primary caregivers and their qualifying patients. Additionally, the new law allows cannabis transport between qualified patients under 18 years old and the patient’s primary caregiver if both parties are non-residents of Hawaii.

Furthermore, the new legislation will allow licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in the state to expand their production by increasing the number of production centers to three. Formerly, the law granted each dispensary license to operate not more than two production centers. Each licensed dispensary can also own or operate a maximum of three retail dispensary locations.

For clarity, the bill redefines a_ medical cannabis production center_ from a farm or facility to multiple structures housed in the same property line to produce or manufacture cannabis and cannabis products and related activities.

Likewise, the recent legislation increases the legal production capacity of each production center from three thousand to five thousand cannabis plants. Licensed dispensaries with no more than two production centers can produce a maximum of 7,500 cannabis plants in each center. The Department of Health is authorized to determine the number of production centers for each licensee as prescribed by the amended law.

Following the new legislation, the Department of Health may approve the sale and procurement of cannabis and its derivatives between licensed dispensaries. However, the department must establish that the purpose of the purchase is to allow eligible patients to have undisturbed access to medical cannabis and ensure that the cannabis and derivatives sold are legally approved. The law will allow the selling dispensary to transport a maximum of 320 ounces of cannabis and related products to the buyer within 30 days.

By introducing these policies, advocates speculate that Hawaii's medical cannabis-qualifying

populace will have better access to legitimate cannabis and cannabis products. Dispensaries will also be able to expand their operations and serve residents better.

The bill's sponsor initially proposed that the state implement the amendment this year after approval. However, the now enacted act shall take effect on July 1, 2060.

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