Pubdate: Thu, 15 Oct 2015
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2015 Star Advertiser
Author: Timothy Hurley


Medical Marijuana Patients Need State Cards to Possess Pakalolo, the 
Health Department Says

State officials are warning Hawaii's medical marijuana patients and 
caregivers to tag their plants and carry their registration cards to 
avoid getting in trouble with the law.

The requirements are part of an amended set of rules proposed by the 
state Department of Health and approved by Gov. David Ige in July.

According to the updated rules, anyone registered to grow marijuana 
plants must have a legible identification tag on each marijuana 
plant, up to the allowable limit of seven plants. The tags must show 
the patient's registration number and expiration date of the card.

Specific tagging guidelines are found online at the Hawaii Medical 
Marijuana Registry Program website at

In addition to tagging plants, patients and caregivers are required 
to carry their registration card and valid ID whenever they are in 
possession of medical marijuana.

This means that neither patients nor caregivers are authorized to 
begin the use of medical marijuana until they receive their 
registration card, officials said.

This is a point of contention with Dr. David Barton, an Oahu-based 
physician who certifies medical cannabis patients, and others.

"The law says you only need a medical doctor's certificate, so this 
is one area that needs to be resolved," Barton wrote on his website.

The wait for medical marijuana cards can take a month or longer, in 
part because the program has a staff of only four.

"But cancer patients need immediate protection, as they have 
immediate needs due to chemotherapy and other treatments. Seizure 
kids as well. There are lots of people who have immediate needs, and 
the state is making ALL wait for their process," Barton wrote.

Scottina "Scotty" Malia Ruis, the DOH's medical marijuana registry 
coordinator, said her staff is doing the best it can to expedite the 
registration process.

"We're hoping to get caught up," Ruis said. But the rules, as 
written, are specific, she said: A registration card is necessary 
before any growing or use is allowed.

The good news, Ruis said, is that the department is developing a 
fully online application system that aims to reduce by at least half 
the turnaround time for issuing registration cards by the end of the year.

Ruis added that patients should renew their registration cards, which 
are good for a year, before they expire if they intend to continue 
using medical marijuana. A card can be renewed up to 60 days before 
the expiration date.

More than 13,000 people in Hawaii have been issued registration cards 
since the state's medical marijuana program was established in 2000. 
Other rule updates: )) Post-traumatic stress disorder has been added 
to the program's list of debilitating medical conditions, the first 
new condition added to the list since the law was adopted 15 years 
ago. The addition came with this year's adoption of Act 241, the law 
that established a dispensary system across Hawaii.

)) A new petition process allows physicians and patients to propose 
other medical conditions to be added to the list of qualifying conditions.

)) In addition to accepting a valid Hawaii driver's license or state 
ID when applying for a registration card, the program now accepts a 
valid driver's license or state photo ID card from any state, or a 
valid passport.

)) Act 241 also resulted in a rule that no longer requires the 
patient's primary care physician to be the certifying physician for 
the program. But the rule also requires the certifying physician to 
establish and maintain responsibility for the assessment, care and 
treatment of the patient's debilitating medical condition.

The DOH took over the registry program from the state Department of 
Public Safety at the beginning of the year. The Medical Marijuana 
Registry Program and the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program both 
fall under the DOH but are two separate programs.

The department has until Jan. 4 to finalize rules governing the 
dispensary program. Licensed dispensaries are expected to be 
operational by July. Once the dispensaries are up and running, 
qualified patients will be able to obtain up to 4 ounces of cannabis 
or cannabis-infused products, such as oils, tinctures or lozenges, 
from a licensed provider every 15 days.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom