A bill that would allow patients or their caregivers to transfer medical marijuana plants to other patients passed through the House Health Committee on Wednesday.

HB 1455 would also increase the number of patients that caregivers could help grow medical marijuana from one to three. It still needs approval from the House Judiciary Committee to advance to a vote of the full House.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since 2000, but the only way that patients can legally access it is by growing it themselves, or having a caregiver grow it for them. However, many of the estimated 13,000 qualifying patients don’t have the physical or financial means to grow medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, HB 321, which would establish medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers across the state, is scheduled for additional consideration by the Health and the Judiciary committees Tuesday at 2 p.m.

6-year-old Maile Kaneshiro sits as mom Jari Sugano as she testifies in support of House BIll 321.  7 feb 2015. photograph by Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Six-year-old Maile Kaneshiro listens as her mother, Jari Sugano, testifies Saturday in favor of a bill to establish medical marijuana dispensaries. Sugano said marijuana is effective in treating her daughter, who suffers severe seizures.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

During a hearing Saturday, most of the people who spoke supported HB 321. Several testified how medical marijuana had helped their loved ones cope with debilitating illnesses. But the bill was opposed by law enforcement, the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office, anti-drug advocates, churches and some anxious parents.

Several other bills relating to medical marijuana were deferred indefinitely by the Health Committee on Wednesday:

HB 788 would have legalized growing marijuana for those registered with the Department of Health. This bill would have required growers to abide by DOH rules, and prohibit the infusion of trademarked products with medical marijuana. Health Committee members said they were pursuing HB 321 instead.

HB 794 would have allowed doctors to determine when a medical condition qualifies a patient to be prescribed medical marijuana. Doctors would have been able to prescribe marijuana for an array of medical conditions, rather than just “debilitating” conditions as defined in the current medical marijuana laws. Health Committee members said the Department of Health is pursuing this on its own.

HB 795 would have protected employees who have medical marijuana prescriptions from workplace discrimination. The bill would have protected employees from being fired if they failed a drug test, but the bill wouldn’t have trump workplace policies that prevent the use of medical marijuana at work. Health Committee members said they would think about creating a task force or resolution dedicated to patients’ workplace protections.

HB 993 would have added specialists, in addition to a patient’s primary doctor, as physicians authorized to provide the “written certification” needed for a medical marijuana prescription. The bill would also have required patients to register with the DOH and provide consent for the release of medical information from their doctor.

About the Author