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As the state’s medical marijuana dispensary program furthers in progress, one official is proposing a turn — restricting pot sales to just marijuana shops. House Bill 1680, presented by Oahu Democrat Rep. Marcus Oshiro, would disallow patients from developing their own medicinal cannabis and rather oblige them to acquire it through a state-authorized dispensary.

“Continuing to allow qualifying medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana at home will undermine the dispensary system … by obstructing the ability of the state to adequately monitor the distribution of this product,” the bill states.

Oshiro told the Tribune-Proclaim the measure would offer law authorization some assistance with regulating and controlling the plant and even keeping it far from young people. Once a directed dispensary framework is built up, he said, there would be satisfactory means for patients to get to cannabis, and no requirement for any home-development by patients or parental figures. The law as proposed would produce results July 1, 2017, about a year after licensees can start apportioning. In 2018, under existing law the parental figure project will be killed.

“(With this bill) you’ve addressed the access and availability issue, at the same time you’ve ensured the supply of safe medical marijuana remains available,” Oshiro added. “But it’s not at the expense of overexposure to the community — especially, the adolescent community.”

The bill had its first perusing a week ago and will be relegated to boards of trustees one week from now. As of now it has adversaries. Andrea Tischler, director of the Big Island chapter of Americans for Safe Access, called the bill the “worst nightmare for the patient that you can possibly imagine,” especially for low-pay patients. Many of the estimated 5,000 Big Island patients — around 40 percent of patients statewide — are low-wage. Tischler thinks most would essentially buy cannabis unlawfully.

“The bottom line is, are low-income or fixed-income people going to be able to buy their cannabis at a dispensary at that price?” she asked. “No way. They’re going to keep buying it from the black market. For the patients who are capable or have the facility to grow cannabis for themselves, (growing) provides them with low-cost, affordable cannabis for their own personal use. To take that away from them would be detrimental — it would cut them off.”


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