“Ensuring Hawaii’s registered patients have access to safe medical marijuana products through an efficient system of responsible, licensed dispensaries.” -Hawaii DOH

Inside today’s update the Department of Health states their position on Medical Marijuana Legislative Bills
“About 45 medical marijuana bills have been introduced in this legislative session, but Governor David Ige and the Hawaii State Department of Health believe it is essential for the medical marijuana dispensary program to first be launched and become operational before making modifications to existing laws or introducing new ones. Changes to the existing law may be premature and will divert attention away from the immediate priorities necessary to ensure a dispensary system is underway to serve Hawaii’s eligible patients.” – Hawaii Department of Health

Are state department of health officials focused on protecting dispensaries and investors or patients? It would seem that we have moved from a patient program into an investment program with patient healthcare as the primary profit center. Is it okay for patients to be incarcerated for paraphernalia? Rolling papers could still land a person in jail with a permanent record. A bill this session would have clarified and corrected our paraphernalia laws. As the state pointed out many bills were introduced, 99 according to the state legislature website.

There’s still no way for a patient to obtain seeds or clones. Patients have been waiting more than a year for dispensaries to open. Everyone seems to agree that problems executing their program are the cause of the delays. However, given the opportunity to take corrective action and potentially save lives, they are officially concerned about “diverting attention away from the immediate priorities necessary to ensure a dispensary system is underway to serve Hawaii’s eligible patients.” Incarceration for acquiring and possessing Cannabis medicine or rolling papers is a lower priority. Parents and children are a lower priority according to parents we’ve spoken with who wish to remain anonymous. Parents are genuinely afraid of losing their children to Child Welfare Services.

Also in the department of health update is a section entitled, “Another Major Step Forward to Improve Patient Access” which focuses on BiotrackTHC software. BiotrackTHC is a “seed to sale” vendor selected by the department of health to manage the relationship between dispensary purchases, cultivation and patient records. BiotrackTHC software has been implicated in several security breaches in Washington state and a possible cover-up by health officials. Allegations include sharing of thousands of patient health information records. BiotrackTHC is not the only traceability software with serious issues.

The County of Hawaii department of safety had previously shared all of the patient health information records with the Hawaii Tribune Herald newspaper. Does the department of health need a patient committee? Patients are concerned about privacy. Former state and county workers have come out of the closet regarding their medical use of Cannabis and expressed concerns for others who have yet to retire. Software alone does not provide privacy. Patients we’ve spoken with believe registration should be voluntary. Other states have “voluntary patient registration, why not us?” Hawaii requires registration to be legal, according to the department of health’s program rules.

So What’s the Cost to Taxpayers?

Washington pays a million per year for this traceability software. Hawaii is known for spending 70 million for a health connector website.

“Viridian Sciences has not only noted a major hole in the security of the Washington state cannabis tracking system and in our opinion BioTrackTHC and/or the state had full knowledge of this fact and has greatly misled the licensed participants. Any reasonable developer, even a beginner, should have spotted this problem.” –Viridian Sciences

So the real wait is for reciprocity when Hawaii begins accepting patients from other states. Not all patients have the time it takes for our state government to go through another health connector website learning curve. Last year legislators voted to make the caregiver program illegal. If Bill 173 does not pass, patients will experience a Cannabis medicine shortage.

Transparency is the only way to protect patient’s health while assuring investors and the department are also protected.

NOTE: Testimony from the department of health is considered more important than testimony from patients. Organizations who represent patients like Hawaii Cannabis Org will continue to make calls, submit testimony and urge lawmakers to consider patients first. We believe this is was and should remain the intent of the 15 year old Hawaii medical Cannabis program.

Download the doh pdf here: HDOH-Medical-Marijuana-Update-February-2017-2-22-2017