A bill that would authorize medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii cleared an important hurdle on Monday.

Many feared the bill, HB 321, dead last week, but negotiators in the House and Senate approved it in committee, sending it on to the full legislature, where it is likely to pass.

The Senate President replaced the chair of the Senate committee in charge of crafting the bill after the former chair, Sen. Josh Green, refused to accept the House’s version of the bill, which set dispensary licenses to be awarded on merit. Green maintains that a first come, first serve system is better:

“In states that have done it the other way, without a transparent process, there’s litigation, there’s really a lot of problems and that’s not the way to do things,” he said last week.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for 15 years, but patients either had to grow plants themselves or obtain cannabis on the black market. If the bill passes, dispensaries could begin opening as early as July 2016.




Photo Credit: Edmund Garman

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