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Maui medical marijuana users say the program has problems

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Jari Sugano tends to her legal cannabis plants at her home in Mililani. The plants are used to treat her daughter’s seizures.

WAILUKU >> Some Maui residents say it’s too expensive to get marijuana for medical purposes and the laws governing the state’s medical marijuana program are inconsistent.

Residents spoke at a meeting the state Department of Health held in Wailuku this week to gather public input on improving the program now that it’s taking over its administration from the state Department of Public Safety, The Maui News reported.

The department has held similar meetings elsewhere in the state.

Kihei resident Janine Ehlis said marijuana is so expensive in Hawaii she tried to get it mailed to her from the mainland so she could treat her asbestos cancer. She was unsuccessful.

"Trying to get medical marijuana is pretty much ridiculous (on Maui)," Ehlis said at the meeting Tuesday. "And the amount you’re allowing us to grow is not nearly enough to produce the oil I need."

She implored law enforcement officials to "go after the ice (methamphetamine) dealers and leave the marijuana (users) alone."

About 13,000 people in Hawaii have been issued cards that allow them to legally grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes since the state’s medical marijuana law was passed in 2000.

Without options to obtain marijuana legally, registered users on Maui are growing increasingly frustrated.

"There’s inconsistency between federal law and state law," Kimo Brown said. "When police start poking their noses into my house the minute (they) know I hold a card or are a caregiver for somebody, well I don’t want you coming into my house. Respect my rights."

The department has proposed several changes to the program, including allowing patients or physicians to nominate debilitating medical conditions that could be treated with medicinal marijuana, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s also proposing to requiring proof of a bona fide relationship between a patient and the physician approving the medical use of marijuana.

Fifty separate bills related to marijuana use in Hawaii are on the table this legislative session. Several bills calling for the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana were heavily debated at the state Capitol in the last two sessions but failed to pass either year.

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