The upcoming hearing for HB2707 will be your last opportunity to testify on the medical marijuana omnibus package being offered by the Legislature. While there are expected to be conference committee hearings to negotiate on the bill, those hearings do not accept public testimony.
The Senate has removed a lot of the heinous ideas being proposed by the House, including:
- reducing the penalty for medical marijuana fraud from a class B felony to a petty misdemeanor,
- reducing the penalty for giving medical marijuana to a minor from a class C felony to a petty misdemeanor,
removing the criminal offense for unauthorized entry into a retail medical marijuana dispensing location,
- removing the criminal offense for unauthorized entry into a medical marijuana production center, and
- removing the penalties for the unauthorized diversion (theft) from a medical dispensary or production center.
If the House had their way, they would have also allowed dispensaries and production centers to employ criminals who have been previously arrested and convicted of non-related marijuana violations.
The latest version of HB2707:
- gives advanced practice nurses (who have prescriptive authority) the ability to authorize a patient to use medical marijuana,
- clarifies that both the federal and state tax codes are fully applicable to dispensaries and production centers and that they are not eligible for exemptions or other special business privileges (such as agricultural subsidies or enterprise zone exemptions),
- clarifies that only doctors and advanced practice nurses who have an active and on-going bona fide doctor/patient relationship are permitted the prescription and use of medical marijuana,
- permits the creation of a laboratory in the University of Hawaii System for the testing and certification of medical marijuana products, and
- creates a working group to make recommendations to the Legislature for the implementation of dispensaries and production centers.
“Bona fide doctor/patient relationships” appears to be an attempt to regulate doctors that hand out bogus medical marijuana prescriptions to clients with no basis for using the drug other than recreational use. While a step in the right direction, this language is still very easy to abuse – evidenced in a ten-fold increase in medical marijuana authorizations made by the Department of Health.
Additionally, the authorization of a laboratory is necessary due to the inability to utilize mainland laboratories because of federal transportation restrictions. Certification and testing of medical marijuana is necessary to ensure proper dosing and could also theoretically be used to ensure that products with unusually high amounts of THC (the psychotropic chemical component of the plant) are not used to go beyond medically-necessary doses.
The working group, however, is an absolute sham. It is composed of the same Who’s Who list of marijuana advocates (e.g. the Drug Policy Center of Hawaii) who want nothing more than the full-scale legalization of all drugs. Of the fifteen members that are assigned to the working group, law enforcement is represented by only two people.
Once again, the public safety of the majority takes a back seat to the needs of a small pet constituency.