Upcoming Big Island meetings focus on medical marijuana

Drug reform in Hawaii will be the topic of two talk-story sessions on the Big Island.


Drug reform in Hawaii will be the topic of two talk-story sessions on the Big Island.

Hosted by the Drug Policy Action Group and Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, the meetings are intended to highlight marijuana-related legislation before the state Legislature and take input on ways to improve the Aloha state’s medical marijuana program, according to the groups.

The first will be from 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the Hilo YWCA, 145 Ululani St. The second will be from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Pahoa Neighborhood Center, 15-2710 Kauhale St.

Pamela Lichty, president of the action group and Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said there are several bills up for consideration this session to change the medical marijuana law in the state.

Supported by the groups, the bills would legalize dispensaries for authorized patients and allow doctors who are not a patient’s primary physician to write a prescription.

Both proposals are intended to increase access, but they also face their own set of challenges, including ensuring that the drug is kept in the hands of those who actually need it for medical purposes.

Still, in regards to dispensaries, Lichty said Hawaii is in the minority of those with medical marijuana laws.

“We’re one of two or three states (with medical marijuana laws) that don’t have dispensaries,” she said.” We need a safe and legal way for patients to obtain it.”

Bills to decriminalize and legalize recreational use are also on the table, but Lichty said she isn’t confident they will make it far this time around.

“We’re hearing that everybody is not feeling very bold because it’s an election year,” she said.

“We just came through the marriage equality battle. They are shying away from anything that is controversial.”

Hawaii is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia with medical marijuana programs. The District of Columbia also has a medical marijuana law.

Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational use.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Big Island Americans for Safe Access are also sponsors of the meetings.


To RSVP, contact bigislandsafeaccess@gmail.com or call 988-4386.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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