Hawaii officials announced earlier this week that the island’s newly licensed medical marijuana dispensaries could begin cultivating pot crops sometime at the beginning of February.
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If all goes according to plan, patients may only be a few months away from purchasing the herb locally.
Although the state passed legislation in 2015 aimed at creating its own cultivation and distribution system, there have been some logistics issues that have prevented this aspect of the medical marijuana program from being realized as promptly as anticipated.
It was predicted that dispensaries would be given the green light to grow as early as the summer of 2016, but some unforeseen problems with the federally required seed to sale program ultimately jammed up progress, according to a report from the Associated Press.
So far, four dispensaries have indicated a readiness to grow as early as February 1. Yet, none of these businesses seem to have any clue when their doors will open to participating patients.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are pushing for additional marijuana-related reforms in the 2017 session.
Several bills have been submitted over the past week aimed at legalizing the leaf for recreational use.
One proposal (Senate Bill 814) would give counties the freedom to decide whether to legalize the “cultivation, possession, sale, transfer, and use,” of the herb for adults 21 and over, while another (Senate Bill 548) is designed to eliminate pot prohibition statewide.
There is also some action geared toward this level of reform in the House of Representatives. House Bill 205, which was introduced by Representative Joseph M Souki, recently survived its first reading.
Eight states have legalized a taxed and regulated system that allows marijuana to be sold in a manner similar to alcohol.
However, some lawmakers feel that Hawaii is not quite prepared to join the legalization bandwagon.
House Majority Leader Scott Saiki recently told Hawaii News Now that recreational marijuana would not get the proper attention from legislative forces until the state gets a proper handle on medical marijuana.
“Our state medical marijuana program is still not really off the ground, even though we authorized dispensaries a couple of years ago,” he said.
In 2014, a recreational marijuana proposal seemed to be advancing nicely through the legislative process, but it was abruptly shut down shortly after a public hearing.
While it remains unknown whether full legalization has a prayer this session, at least the state’s medical marijuana program, which was established nearly 17 years ago, is finally on its way to servicing the 15,334 patients who have been cleared for participation.