Lawmakers puzzle over how to allow pot to be carried inter-island

Lawmakers puzzle over how to allow pot to be carried inter-island

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hawaii's medical marijuana industry takes shape, patients have stumbled across a problem: What about traveling inter-island with their pot?

Lawmakers are looking at the issue to ensure that patients will be able to fly with their medical marijuana.

But proposals before the state Legislature are drawing concerns.

State Attorney General Doug Chin said once a plane leaves and island and is three miles offshore, it's no longer in Hawaii.

"You're in international waters and that's the difference," Chin said.

Chin said marijuana is still illegal at the federal level -- and all airports, aircraft, and air space are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Three miles offshore, patients (and pilots) would have no state protections.

"There's pilots who are concerned that they could actually lose their license," Chin said.

Other states do allow patients to fly with medical marijuana, but Hawaii's status as an island state complicates things.

State Rep. Della Au Belatti, chairwoman of the House Health Committee, wants Hawaii's Transportation Department to take a look at what's working around the country.

Portland International Airport, for example, allows passengers to carry small amounts of marijuana on flights within Oregon. And in California, both Oakland and San Francisco Airports are medical marijuana-friendly.

"Look at what other jurisdictions are doing because they are in fact allowing their patients and their residents to transport marijuana on airplanes," she said.

"We want patients to have what they need with them and on them."

Currently, patients have to rely on friends and family on other islands for pot when they travel.

Teri Heede, of Makakilo, has been using marijuana to treat her multiple sclerosis symptoms for more than 20 years. The 61-year old Navy veteran, who grows her own plants in her backyard, supports a proposal that would allow patients like her to travel interisland with pot.

"Would you go on vacation without your heart medication? We're sick people. We're not trying to transport drugs," she said.

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