Nearly 200 people attended a first-of-its-kind seminar in anticipation of a possible law establishing medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii.
The attendees at Saturday's event drew doctors, lawyers, accountants and others who would be involved in the medical marijuana industry, should House Bill 321 become law.
"We have to take this out of the shadows and bring it into the forefront, and we need to look at this as a legitimate medical business, and it it needs to be treated as so," said Michael Patterson, CEO of U.S. Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development, which presented the seminar.
Hawaii has had legalized medical marijuana since 2000, but the bill approved by the legislature would allow for up to 16 dispensaries to be established around the state.
Seminar organizers said medical marijuana is an industry that involves a lot of different people.
"When you're going to hire an attorney, when you're going to hire an accountant, when you're going to talk to physicians who are going to write the recommendations for patients in the future, what do they need to know?" said Michael Visher, U.S. Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development president.
Attorney Myles Breiner was among those who attended. "I have clients that are on the mainland in states have have legalized recreational marijuana as well as medical marijuana," he said. "And they're interested in coming back to Hawaii. This is their home."
State Rep. Marcus Oshiro voted against the bill. He said medical marijuana for profit will only increase the use of the drug, and not always in a good way.
"This is all about business," said Oshiro. "This is all about making money. This is about increasing sales to anyone you can sell it to."
Organizers, however, said it is a business with opportunity.
"This is about creating an infrastructure and a structure for an industry that is going to continue to grow and last forever," said Visher.
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