For medical cannabis patients in the state of Hawai’i, we really have a fight on our hands.
HB1963 had its first hearing last week. Unfortunately this bill, authored by the Department of Public Safety, and designed to drastically reduce the number of patients whose qualifying condition is chronic pain, passed the Heath Committee and Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee, with amendments.
The Public Safety and Military Affairs vote was 9-yes, 1-no (Rep Souki) and 2-excused. The Health Committee vote was 8-yes (but 5 with reservations), 1-no (Rep Hanohano) and 1-excused
The 5 “with reservations” is a little good news, and the bill was amended, but although there may be changes, I don’t think the overall punitive nature of this bill will change. It’s basic intent is to scare and intimidate those patients who would still qualify for the program. It is a terrible bill.
We did win the first round of testimony, with 59 opposed and only 39 in support. Of the letters in support, 21 were all exactly the same three sentences, and other than saying the program was being abused, never gave personal reasons for their stance. The majority of testimony from patients was personal, and is supposed to carry more weight, but given the vote, that did not happen.
Last year we had between 80 and 100 testimonies per bill, and we have to continue to get word out.
More of the 7,500 patients need to share the reasons and benefits of medical cannabis so that our legislators will hear us!
HB1963 now heads to the House Judiciary committee, where it must be scheduled.
Thus far, no other bills have been scheduled. I will keep you posted.