05.17.2017
policy

Weed Is Legal In Hawaii—But There’s A Catch

It’s a pretty big catch.

Hawaiians made history in 2000 by legalizing medical marijuana via a state bill (instead of, you know, going the whole ballot and rally route), becoming the first U.S. state to do so. Legalizing cannabis for medical purposes fit neatly with the state’s overall progressive stance, and at least on paper, they appeared to be at the forefront of the legal weed world. The reality of actually being a patient in Hawaii, however, is a different story altogether.

In the 17 years since they signed that historic legislation, not a single dispensary has opened in the Aloha State. That’s right, not a single one, making its legal status practically useless for medical marijuana users. According to VICE’s Motherboard, this conundrum happened as a result of finicky state government officials combined with the physical challenges of growing and sourcing weed on an island. Part of the problem also had to do with the 2000 bill missing a key element: actually providing patients with places to buy weed. 

Now, state officials are finally correcting their error and have given a few dispensaries the official OK. Apparently, fear about full-blown, recreational legalization exacerbated the hold up with this final stage of the process. In spite of these issues, eight companies have secured licenses from the state, and while their grow operations are in the works, it will still be some time before they open dispensary doors. Because, in what might be the most confounding element of all in this mess, the bill expressly forbids Hawaiian dispensaries from sourcing weed out of state. WTF, I know.

Hopefully, the few new dispensaries taking on Hawaii’s weed challenge will pave the way for future operations and meet the growing demand for medicinal cannabis. Just think, Hawaii could soon be even chiller than it already is. 

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