On the last day of the 2015 regular session, the House passed on final reading HB321, CD1, which creates a statewide distribution system for medical marijuana and establishes the parameters for individuals and entities to apply to set up the dispensaries. The bill has also passed the senate and now goes to the governor, who can either sign it, veto it or allow it to pass into law without his signature.
“There are n estimated 13,000 qualifying patients throughout the state who are desperately looking to find a safe, reliable and convenient access to medical marijuana. This bill is a reasonable and compassionate response to the needs of our citizens,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti (D-Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully Pawaa, Manoa), who co-introduced the bill along with House Speaker Joseph M. Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu). Both are long-time supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries. Marijuana use for medicinal purposes has been legal since 2000, but until now there has been no system to distribute it to patients aside from grow-your-own.
· Eight dispensary licensees are allowed: three on Oahu, two on Big Island, two in Maui County; and one on Kauai;
· Each licensee may own, operate or subcontract up to two production centers and up to two retail dispensing locations; dispensaries can not be located in same place as production center;
· The Department of Health must engage in public education and training regarding medical marijuana;
· The Department of Health must adopt interim rules by Jan. 4, 2016, for the establishment and management of the medical marijuana dispensary system;
· The Department of Health has the job of accepting applications for dispensary licenses from Jan. 12, 2016, to Jan. 29, 2016, and announcing licensees by April 15, 2016;
· The Department of Health must select licensees based on minimum requirements and merit based factors including: the capacity to meet the needs of patients; ability to comply with criminal background checks, inventory controls and security requirements; ability to operate a business; financial stability and access to financial resources;
· The Department of Health may license additional operators after Oct. 1, 2017, based on qualifying patient need;
· Dispensaries must comply with all zoning regulations and will not be permitted within 750 ft. of a playground, public housing or school;
· Licensees may begin dispensing marijuana and manufactured marijuana products on July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department of Health;
· Licensed applicants must pay (a) $5,000 non-refundable application fee, (b) an additional $75,000 fee for each license approved, and (c) a $50,000 annual renewal fee;
· License applicants must be a legal residents of the State for not less than five years, be over the age of 21, and have no felony convictions;
· At minimum, applicant organizations must be organized under the laws of the state and have a Hawaii tax ID number, have a 51 percent or greater Hawaii based ownership stake, have at least $1,000,000 under the organization’s control for each license applied for with an additional $100,000 available for each retail dispensing location;
·Distributors must pay regular general excise taxes on the sale of marijuana and manufactured products within the dispensary system. The bill establishes no additional taxes;
· Qualifying patients may obtain medical marijuana from primary caregivers who cultivate or by personally cultivating marijuana until Dec. 31, 2018;
·Primary caregivers or legal guardians may cultivate marijuana after Dec. 31, 2018, if the qualifying patient is a minor or adult lacking legal capacity or is located on any island with no dispensary;
·The legal definition of “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of authorizing marijuana use is expanded to include post-traumatic stress disorder;
· The Department of Health’s authority is expanded to conduct criminal background checks;
· Ddispensaries must \ allow announced and unlimited unannounced inspections and must conduct annual financial audits; and
· The Department of Health must file annual report to Governor and Legislature on dispensaries.
Additional details of the measure can be found in the bill text and the committee report at the links below:
· Committee Report: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2015/CommReports/HB321_CD1_CCR170_.htm