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Pilot program would limit medical marijuana use


A two-year pilot program to establish a medical marijuana distribution center aims to treat patients and crack down on abuses that have led to more than 500 people under age 21 receiving marijuana prescriptions in Hawaii County alone, a state senator said.

Senate Health Chairman Sen. Josh Green (D, Milolii-Waimea) added that as many as half of the prescriptions on the Big Island were going to recipients under the age of 30.

“As a physician I find (it) pretty hard to wrap my mind around,” said Green, who also is an emergency room doctor. “I’m not talking about someone who’s born with a terrible degenerative condition and just had to have any kind of medical solution. I’m talking about people with common injuries.”

Under the pilot program proposed in Senate Bill 1458, medical marijuana prescriptions would be limited to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV, AIDS and/or glaucoma. It would establish a “compassion center” for distribution on an island where the Department of Health determines there is the greatest need, based on the number of prescriptions.

The proposal is scheduled for a vote in a joint House-Senate conference committee tomorrow. Both sides must agree on the bill before it can advance to a final floor vote.

Rep. Ryan Yamane, lead negotiator for the House on the bill, said members have expressed concerns on not specifying the location site for the distribution center.

“We do feel that there are certain areas that probably would be able to enhance the success of that facility,” said Yamane (D, Waipahu-Mililani). “If we’re going to actually look at this as a true pilot program, we want to make sure we get accurate and valid information.”

Under current law, qualifying patients may possess an “adequate” supply of marijuana limited to a total of three mature plants, four immature plants and one ounce of usable marijuana per each mature plant.

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