Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill amending the term medical marijuana to medical cannabis, transferring the administration of the program from the department of public safety to the department of health; authorizing a registration fee of $50, establishing the medical cannabis advisory board; and providing for the department of health to license producers to dispense medical cannabis.
The League, in August of 2008 completed a Hawaii Drug Policy Report. We adopted a position in October of 2008. Both the report, and League position, are accessible from the homepage of our website.
Our report calls for a public health approach to drug policy. Relating to medical marijuana, in 2007 we participated in a concerted, albeit unsuccessful, legislative effort to move administration of the program under the jurisdiction of the DOH. This policy change is sought primarily to address patients fear and the stigma associated with registering with the narcotics enforcement agency.
These concerns were exacerbated by a security breach in July 2008, when the database of 4200 patients was mistakenly released to the Big Island newspaper. This administrative move to DOH would assuage the fears of people with qualifying medical conditions and would also mitigate the reluctance of some physicians to certify patients.
Such a change would better reflect the legislative intent of this program and enable the program to take advantage of the outreach and education capacity of the DOH, as is the case in most of the states that permit the medical use of marijuana.