Medical marijuana bill revived

Brian Igersheim
Brian Igersheim
Rep. Joe Bertram III
Rep. Joe Bertram III

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A medical marijuana bill that Governor Linda Lingle vetoed this past legislative session, is growing momentum again.

On Monday, the House Health Committee held an informational briefing about it.

As one of 12 states where medical marijuana is legal, there is growing concern for the safety of certified patients in Hawaii.

"It's not safe to grow marijuana in the backyard when you have neighbors all around you. Theft, is a huge problem, violence ensues it's been an issue with patients including myself," said Brian Igersheim of Maui County Citizens for Democracy in Action.

There's also the threat of arrest. State law clashes with federal law, making it illegal to grow, possess, distribute and use marijuana.

"We've experienced quite a lot of law enforcement against legitimate users of medical marijuana," said Representative Joe Bertram III.

To help protect patients, House Bill 2675 calls for the creation of a task force with five goals, including making sure patients get enough medication, studying the development of secured growing facilities on each island, and finding a way to protect patients from getting arrested while traveling inter-island.

"The task force would be great because it could explain and identify every single point that may conflict with federal law and what we could do to remedy it or address it," said Representative John Mizuno.

The hope is to make it easier for patients to access medical marijuana.

"A system where patients can acquire their medicine safely without going to the black market and where law enforcement has clear transparency if you will," said Igersheim.

Lawmakers plan to re-introduce the bill at the next legislative session.

A patient must get written certification from a physician to use marijuana. All patients are registered with the Department of Public Safety.