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Hawaii Department of Health Approves Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC to Acquire and Cultivate Medical Marijuana

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today issued a Notice to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC for their production center on Maui. Pono Life Sciences Maui is the fourth licensee to receive notice from the state and the second Maui licensee to meet all requirements to begin growing marijuana.

Pono Life Sciences Maui is now authorized to acquire and grow marijuana seeds, clones and plants, for the purpose of providing marijuana and marijuana products to qualified patients registered with the department’s Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Program. This month, in addition to Pono Life Sciences Maui, DOH issued Notices to Proceed to Maui Grown Therapies, Aloha Green Holdings, and Manoa Botanicals for production centers on Maui and Oahu.

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include building a secure, enclosed indoor facility; operating a computer software tracking system that interfaces with the state’s system and submits current inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center; and authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Hawaii State Department of Public Safety.

More information on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/

A total of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses were issued in April 2016. Three dispensary licenses for the City and County of Honolulu were issued to Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.; Manoa Botanicals, LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. Two licenses for the County of Hawaii were issued to Hawaiian Ethos, LLC and Lau Ola, LLC. Two licenses for the County of Maui were issued to Maui Wellness Group, LLC and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. One license for the County of Kauai was issued to Green Aloha, Ltd.

Each dispensary licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensary locations statewide. Each production center may grow up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Online Registry – Accelerates Access for Hawaii’s Patients

The Hawaii Department of Health’s medical marijuana registry program is now able to issue patient registration cards in a fraction of the time it took to process a year ago.

Medical Marijuana Registry ButtonWith the introduction of a new online registry, it now takes three to five business days for the department to issue medical marijuana registration cards to patients — a dramatic decrease from the six to eight weeks it previously took when there was a backlog of patients last year.

“Without compromising the integrity of our review process or the safety of Hawaii’s people, we brought everything up to speed and improved our processing time so that patients can receive their registration cards faster,” said Scottina Ruis, medical marijuana registry program coordinator for the Hawaii Department of Health.

Process Improvements

Ruis noted that some of the benefits of the new online registry system are having the physician certify the patients electronically and having the registration cards sent directly to patients. In the past, when the Department of Health issued registration cards, the cards were mailed to the certifying physicians for their signature then the certifying physician would give or mail the cards to their patients. The use of the physician’s electronic signature during the registration process allows the Department of Health to send the registration cards directly to the patients. Since the program requires that patients wait until they receive their registration card before they are authorized to use medical marijuana, the sooner they receive their card, the sooner they are protected by the program.

“Both patients and their physicians play a critical role in ensuring that registration cards can be issued promptly,” Ruis said. “Patients must make sure they complete the electronic registration form properly and submit all of the required documentation to their physician, electronically. Physicians must review the electronic registration form as well as electronically certify the patient’s condition before submitting the completed application to the Department of Health.”

The patient registration card includes information on the grow site which permits a qualifying patient or care giver to grow up to seven plants, which must be properly tagged in order to remain in compliance with the program. Inappropriately registered grow sites, unregistered grow sites and improperly tagged plants are not protected by the program and are subject to confiscation by law enforcement agencies.

Background

When oversight of the medical marijuana registry program was transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health a little more than a year ago, there was a total of 11,402 unduplicated, registered patients in the program. That number steadily climbed in 2015, and today has reached more than 13,000 valid patients.

Anticipating Future Community Need “With the dispensary program targeted to be in operation as early as July 2016, medical marijuana will be more accessible. The online registration process is the first step to help ensure that we are ready for any increase in demand for registration cards,” Ruis said.

“To be optimally functional, better able to service existing and new patients, physicians, law enforcement, and to be responsive to the larger community, we need additional staff. We hope to receive funding for an additional staff in the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2016. This will help ensure that we are able to maintain this positive momentum and the timing would coincide with the targeted launch of the medical marijuana dispensary program when demand for cards could potentially increase,” Ruis said.

Importance of Physician Education

In the meantime, Ruis is looking at ways to enlist the support of more certifying physicians for the registration program. The Department of Health recommends that patients who feel they may be eligible for the program begin the discussion with the physician that is currently treating them for the debilitating medical condition for which they are seeking certification.

Ideally these physicians would seek continuing medical education courses specific to medical marijuana and how to best meet patient needs. “Education is a critical component of the medical marijuana program. We hope to be actively involved at all levels – physicians, health care professionals, patients and caregivers, law enforcement, and the general public,” Ruis said.

Senator Espero Introduces Medical Marijuana Bills

Hawai‘i joined the growing list of states across the nation in 2015 when Act 241 was signed into law, providing the framework for the first medical marijuana dispensary program. Today marks the deadline in which prospective applicants interested in obtaining a permit to operate a dispensary may submit their applications.

Capital

While the program continues to make progress under the State Department of Health, Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19- ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at improving the medical marijuana program and further help the patients who use it.

Among the measures introduced is SB2176, which would establish a medical marijuana oversight committee under the Department of Health. The committee would include licensed medical professionals and registered patients that monitor, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding the implementation of the use, cultivation, and dispensing of medical marijuana and the overall program.

Other medical marijuana bills being introduced by Senator Espero are:

SB2175 Requires the Department of Health to issue a third medical marijuana dispensary license for the county of Hawaii. Allows medical marijuana dispensaries to be open during certain hours on Sundays. Allows an individual convicted of a felony to be employed at or enter into a medical marijuana dispensary facility only if the individual has not been convicted of a felony within the six years immediately preceding employment or entry.

SB2177 Requires the Department of Health to issue a receipt that shall serve as a temporary registration certificate for the medical use of marijuana upon receipt of a written certification form completed by or on behalf of a qualifying patient. Increases penalty for fraudulent misrepresentation to a law enforcement official relating to the issuance of a written certificate by a physician.

SB2178 Allows arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, and stress to be included among the debilitating medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be authorized to be used.

SB2306 Allows the Department of Health to revoke a medical marijuana dispensary license under certain conditions and subject to a ninety day notice followed by a public hearing within fourteen days. Establishes a fine of up to $500 per day for any licensee who violates state law or administrative rules. Allows a licensee to appeal a fine to an ad hoc special committee. Allows the Department of Health to choose a new licensee if the department revokes a license.

SB2307 Beginning January 1, 2017, establishes a licensing system for medical marijuana growing facilities, production centers, and retail dispensing locations. Allows persons authorized to use and possess medical marijuana in other states to be treated similarly to qualifying patients in this State pursuant to rules adopted by the Department of Health after 1/1/2018. Authorizes the department of health to conduct criminal history checks on license applicants; licensees; prospective employees of growing facilities, production centers, and retail dispensing locations; subcontractors; and persons authorized to enter and remain on such premises. Repeals chapter 329D on December 31, 2016.

SB2308 Establishes a working group to research and make recommendations regarding medical marijuana edibles for human consumption.

SB2627 Establishes a medical marijuana commission to evaluate and make recommendations about the overall effectiveness of the medical marijuana dispensaries in the State.

SB2757 Authorizes the Department of Agriculture to establish a three-year industrial hemp research program to investigate the viability of industrial hemp as a building material for housing in the State. Requires a final report to the legislature prior to the convening of the regular session of 2019. Defines “industrial hemp”. Repeals 7/1/2019.

Hawaii Department of Health Posts Interim Administrative Rules for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) posted interim administrative rules for the medical marijuana dispensary licensing program today. The rules can be found at the DOH’s medical marijuana website health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana under “Dispensary Updates.”

Medical Marijauan Registry

The interim rules are effective immediately and will remain in effect until July 1, 2018, or until rules are adopted pursuant to chapter 91 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS).

According to Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler, “The interim rules were written first and foremost to effectively implement the medical marijuana dispensary law and get the dispensary system up and running. The rules have also been drafted to ensure patient safety, product safety and public safety, and prevent marketing to our keiki. This product is intended to be used for registered patients who need it for medical purposes and the rules are written specifically to accomplish that goal.”

The interim rules explain: the criteria and process for awarding dispensary licenses; security requirements; the standards for certifying laboratories that will be responsible for ensuring the safety of the marijuana or manufactured marijuana products distributed at the retail dispensing locations; requirements for operating the dispensaries, including tracking each dispensary’s inventory of products from seed to sale or disposal; and other requirements.

To answer questions from potential applicants and the general public, DOH will post a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) document on the medical marijuana website.

Anyone who has questions about the rules should send them in an email to DOH.MedMarijuanaDispensary@doh.hawaii.gov.

The FAQ document will be updated with new questions and answers as often as possible. This updated FAQ document will be the sole method DOH uses to answer questions from the public so that the process for providing this information is as fair and transparent as possible.

The medical marijuana dispensary law, chapter 329D, HRS, allows DOH to award a total of eight licenses initially: three licenses for the City and County of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each for the County of Hawaii and the County of Maui, and one dispensary license for the County of Kauai. Each dispensary licensee will be allowed to operate up to two production centers and two retail dispensing locations. The initial open application period for licensing begins Jan. 12, 2016 and closes on Jan. 29, 2016.

Medical Use of Marijuana Program Transferred to Department of Health

Effective January 1, 2015, Hawaii’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program was transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health, according to Act 177.   Act 178  amends sections of HRS 329 Part IX , some notable changes, which became effective January 1, 2015, are:

  • “Adequate supply” changes from “three mature marijuana plants, four immature marijuana plants, and one ounce of usable marijuana” to “seven marijuana plants, whether immature or mature, and four ounces of usable marijuana at any given time.”
  • Notification of changes to information on the application – if the information provided to the department of health for registration changes, the registered program participant MUST report this change to the department of health “within ten working days” of the change. The previous requirement was “within five working days”

To get a complete understanding of ALL changes to the law, please read Act 178.

Medical MarijuanaClick Here to Learn What’s New About the Program

Click Here to Learn What’s Staying the Same

Click Here to Download the General Information FAQ

Other Documents related to Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program

Act 228 SLH 2000.  Hawaii’s initial Medical Use of Marijuana law.

Act178 SLH  2013 –  Makes several changes to the current law (such as: “adequate supply” of medical marijuana changes to 7 plants, regardless of maturity; useable marijuana changes to 4 oz; increase in registration fees from $25 to $35; and other changes) please read Act 178 for more information.

HRS-329 Hawaii’s Uniformed Controlled Substances Act (see part IX – Medical Use of Marijuana).

Department of Public Safety Medical Marijunana Program Info

U.S. Department of Justice “Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy  Aug. 29, 2013.

U.S. Department of Justice “Formal Medical Marijuana Guidelines”  Oct. 9, 2009.

Newly Enacted Medical Marijuana Bill Refocuses on Compassionate Treatment in Hawaii

Medical Marijuana moves from the public safety side of things to the health side of things.

Medical Marijuana moves from the public safety side of things to the health side of things.

Health Committee Chair Representative Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa) issued the following statement regarding this afternoon’s signing of Senate Bill 642 and House Bill 668, bills relating to the administration of medical marijuana:

“Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states.  By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the State can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”