Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law to legalize the sale of medical cannabis edibles. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2021.
The bill, HB 2097, was approved by Hawaii lawmakers in July and has since awaited the governor’s signature. Aside from allowing the island state’s eight medical marijuana dispensaries to produce and sell cannabis-infused edibles to qualifying patients, the bill also allows dispensaries to promote its services through event sponsorship and the publication of educational literature detailing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
“Passage of HB 2097 is a victory for the state’s 30,798 registered medical cannabis patients,” Randy Gonce, program director of the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association, said in July following the legislature’s vote. “Coronavirus has prompted more patients to seek ingestible forms of cannabis to replace inhalation due to concerns about lung health, so the approval of edibles is welcome news,” he added.
Hawaii’s Department of Health (DOH) is responsible for setting production, packaging and retail regulations for cannabis-infused edibles. It’s unclear how long the DOH will take to draft and rubber-stamp the new regulations, meaning it could take longer than the official January 1, 2020, start date before cannabis-infused edibles are legally available to purchase.
Hawaii established a medical cannabis program in 2000 but it took until 2015 for the islands state to set out an industry framework and a further three years for the first sales of medical marijuana to begin. Registered MMJ card-holders in the US are allowed to buy medical marijuana in Hawaii after the DOH introduced an online system for out-of-state MMJ patients last year.
Gov. Ige’s move comes shortly after Florida’s Department of Health approved edibles as a medical marijuana treatment in an emergency rule change.
Gov. Ige signed that bill into law but is generally skeptical of marijuana reform. He vetoed a bill hat would allow qualifying medical cannabis patients to travel with prescribed marijuana between the islands. Around that time, he also vetoed a bill that would establish a licensing system for hemp growers. Under Ige’s watch, Hawaii decriminalized marijuana possession but only up to three grams. Hawaii’s cannabis laws remain some of the more restrictive to be found in the US.