A proposal to allow shops to sell medical marijuana in Hawaii is moving forward.
One group concerned about the potential impacts met with lawmakers Tuesday. The group is known as Project SAM, which stands for Smart Approaches to Marijuana. It lobbies lawmakers across the country against legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.
The group said that in California, it’s become too easy to get medical marijuana and that pot dispensaries there became a booming market that got out of control, allowing teenagers easier access to the drug.
“People in California realized this was not good point of sales having marijuana shops in communities next to churches, by schools, whatever,” said John Redman of Project SAM. “(They were) creating a huge problem.”
Some Hawaii lawmakers want to allow medical marijuana dispensaries because right now patients can only get it legally by growing their own. But lawmakers are troubled by what’s happening in California.
“No state has done dispensaries well yet,” said Sen. Josh Green, health committee chair. “The only way that I would consider dispensaries is if they are medically managed very carefully.”
Sen. Green says there has to be a strict system of checks and balances that allows only seriously ill patients like those with cancer or HIV to get medical marijuana. A bill still moving forward in the legislature lets only the primary physician or an oncologist prescribe it and more restrictions could be added.
“Right now doctors are very careful not to abuse their licenses, so we’ve made it more of a mainstream medical program,” Sen. Green said. “We’ve allowed RICO (Regulated Industries Complaints Office) to look at people’s medical licenses if they’re over-prescribing or over-dispensing.”
Read the bill in its entirety here.