In a few months, the state Department of Health will select the state’s first licensees for medical marijuana dispensaries. The application process closed just Friday.
On Saturday, hundreds of people stopped by the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall for this year’s Hawaii Cannabis Expo being held over the weekend.
Some attendees told KHON2 they wanted to learn how they can get medical marijuana cards, and be more educated on cannabis overall.
“I was actually looking for a doctor to get a card,” said Jeanette Mahi of Kapolei. “I’m just kind of looking around. I get migraines and marijuana helps me.”
From hand-blown glass pipe demos, to cannabis decorated jewelry, books, vapes and information sessions, pretty much anything you can think of that is marijuana-related could be found at the expo.
Including drug treatment providers like counselor Glen Carner: “We are trying to build a program that actually brings college students, medical students, educators and other business professionals into secondary schools to provide real harm-reduction, safety based drug information.
“As a drug treatment provider, it’s a little awkward being here. Any kind of promotion of a drug I’m actually not in favor of, but I’m very much in favor of thing like discerning between experimental use-and-abuse and the complexities of drug addiction.”
Friday was the last day for medical marijuana dispensary hopefuls to fill out their applications to operate in the state.
Lawmakers like Sen. Will Espero (D/Ewa Beach, Ewa by Gentry) introduced several bills this week to improve the new program and help patients who use it.
“This is a new era in terms of medicine for patients in need. My bills are just to make some amendments to the program and to, in my opinion, improve it,” he said.
“This year is almost going to be like a pilot program. We have done a lot of research with the state Dept. of Health, we have looked at the best practices throughout the nation, and we feel that we have a good model. There are, however, some things that we could change. Last year, for example, we put that you can’t open on Sundays. In hindsight, many of us wonder how did that stay in the bill.”
Legal proposals include establishing a medical marijuana oversight committee under the Department of Health and creating a group to research medical marijuana edibles.
A law was passed last year that would allow the health department to award eight licenses in all of Hawaii — three on Oahu, two each on Hawaii Island and Maui, and one on Kauai.
The DOH will announce the licensees on April 15 who will be allowed to dispense medical marijuana starting July 15.