The Hawaiian Department of Health Implements New Amendments to Medical Cannabis Laws

Hawaiian Governor David Ige signed amendments into law that will improve access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients.

The amendment is aimed at medical cannabis users with chronic health conditions. Instead of having to apply for permits each year, these documents will now be valid for three years. Patients still have to obtain written certifications from a physician or advance practice registered nurse (APRN).

The amendment also adds cannabis inhalers to the list of approved merchandise that can be sold to qualifying patients. These devices are not allowed to contain nicotine or any non-cannabis derived products. The amendment also increases the THC limit on specific products, after a study found that many patients require larger doses of THC to relieve their symptoms.

Patients who are registered in other states can now apply for registration in Hawaii as well, permitting legal purchases and possession for a 60-day period. They will have the option to renew
their registration for another 60-day period within 12 months.

Parents and guardians can now register as caregivers to one or more qualifying minor patients – this applies to both Hawaiian and out of state minor patients.

The amendment has legitimized “telehealth” medical cannabis relationships, meaning that a physician or APRN can establish relationships both in person and via telephone.

Finally, a working group will be established to address outstanding issues regarding medical cannabis. These include employee registration for drug screening and limitations on edible cannabis products – especially those designed to appeal to children.

This “working group” will be composed of representatives from the Department of Health, legislators, patients, licensees, and others. They will review federal policies and practices in other states, providing a final report to Hawaii in January 2019.