A House-Senate conference committee on Friday killed a bill that would have set up a five-year medical marijuana distribution pilot program.
Sen. Josh Green, the lead negotiator for the Senate, told the committee: “I want it to be a tighter (pilot) program,” before deferring the measure for this session.
The committee couldn’t agree on several issues — including licensing and types of qualifying illnesses — but agreed to try to work out the disagreements before next session.
This year the Legislature considered 14 marijuana bills. Just one, HB 1085, has cleared conference committee and looks like it will survive. The bill would increase the fee for the registration certificate for qualifying patients for medical marijuana and conform Hawaii law on controlled substances with federal laws on controlled substances.
Pamela Lichty, president of The Drug Policy Forum, a nonprofit established in 1993 to encourage discussion and promote public education about current and alternative drug policies and related issues, thought Hawaii was being too timid by considering a pilot medical marijuana dispensary program.
Her group opposed the measure.
“No other states that have dispensaries, and there’s now about six or seven of them, have ever done a pilot program and they’ve never started with just one program. So we don’t see any reason that Hawaii should be so timid and just start with a pilot program,” she told Civil Beat.
Asked why current patients don’t have a dispensary, Lichty said: “It’s the fear factor. And I think a large part of the problem is the fact that it’s run by public safety. It’s run by the narcotics enforcement division of public safety. And, you know, it’s antithetical to their mission. And they’ve been given this task of managing this program, they don’t like it, so I think they’re putting up whatever obstacles they can and fear mongering among the legislators, which is easy to do, to scare them off. And they’ve been telling horror stories about L.A. County, and there are more dispensaries than there are Starbucks, and all this. I mean, they take the worst example in the country and are using that as the bad example. But not talking about how it’s working great in Oakland, how New Mexico has got a really good system, Rhode Island, all these other examples out there.”