Cannabis and Hawaii have a long and interwoven history. The Aloha State has been at the forefront of legalization, despite the Drug Enforcement Administration’s best efforts in the 1980s to eradicate the plant completely. In fact, Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical-use cannabis in 2000, although it wasn’t until 2015 that a legal market was allowed and dispensaries began to open. The pace may be glacial, but things do seem to be moving forward, like right now: Hawaii is in the process of passing further legislation, in the form of House Bill 2729.

What Is House Bill 2729?

HB2729 is Hawaii’s legislation relating to cannabis for medical use. It aims to establish standards and criteria for medical cannabis in the state, covering everything from certification and testing, to the manufacturing of products and measures for dispensaries and employment. It’s a comprehensive and wide-reaching bill, and disagreements over its amendments have so far kept it from passing fully. Let’s take a look at some of the sticking points.

Workplace Protections For Medical Cannabis Patients

Due to the conflict between state and federal law, it’s still possible for a medical cannabis patient to lose their job in Hawaii, even though they are acting legally within the state’s rules. Safeguarding against this potential job loss is an important issue for medical marijuana activists, and so far, the new rulings look to have passed with only a few disagreements regarding exemptions. These exemptions mainly concern jobs that require the operation of heavy machinery or that take place in a hazardous environment, such as a construction site, where the side effects of consuming medical marijuana could be potentially dangerous.

Reciprocity Of Medical Marijuana In Hawaii

Currently, it’s still illegal in Hawaii for nonresidents to purchase medical marijuana, even if they have a valid medical card from another US state. An amendment to the bill looks to remove this obstacle, but remains one of the more difficult issues to rectify. As a result, it looks like this issue will be shelved for the time being.

Edibles In The Aloha State

Much of the concern regarding HB2729 lies with edibles. It isn’t legal for dispensaries to manufacture or sell any edibles in Hawaii at the moment, and is obviously seen as a priority for future legalization efforts. The contention surrounding edibles seems to lie with their appeal to children and potential harm to minors, who could accidentally ingest them.

In a written testimony dated March 28, 2018, Hawaii’s Department of Health expressed concern over cannabis in the form of food, stating that “edibles are more susceptible to overdosing due to delayed effects on persons resulting from differences of ingestion rates.”

Despite there being no recorded incidence of cannabis overdose deaths, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Fact Sheet on marijuana, particular concern from the Department of Health surrounds gummies and brightly colored edibles in vibrant packaging that could be mistaken by children for candy. For now, edibles remain illegal in Hawaii, but it looks like once provisions for proper labeling, dosing and packaging are in place, dispensaries in the islands might soon be able to provide them to their patients.

While much of HB2729 has passed, many parts of the legislation remain unresolved for now. The good news is that, despite the slow pace, most of these amendments look likely to pass in due time — once the appropriate provisions and safeguards are ironed out, of course.