Q What Is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is the same as any other form of marijuana or cannabis except that it is used as medicine.
Q What If My Doctor Isn’t Willing To Give Me a Certification or Says I Don’t Qualify? The Act does not force physicians to offer certifications for medical marijuana use. It’s a new law and it takes a while for physicians to become comfortable with it. You may ask more than one physician.
Q Is There a List of Doctors Who Are Willing to Advise Me on the Medical Use of Marijuana? No, because the names of doctors who have sent written certifications to the Narcotics Enforcement Division are confidential. The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai`i may be able to assist you in finding a physician.
Q If My Doctor Wants More Information on the Medical Uses of Marijuana Where Can He/She Get It? In March of 1999 the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences released a comprehensive study on medical marijuana: “Marijuana And Medicine-Assessing the Science Base.” It can be ordered from the National Academy Press website at www.nap.edu (enter “medical marijuana” in search field) or from l-888-624-8373. More scientific background can be found at the Marijuana Policy Project’s website: www.mpp.org and at NORML’s website: www.norml.org.
Q How Long Does My Doctor’s Certification Last? The certification lasts for one year from the time of the physician’s signing for both patients and primary caregivers. After one year, the doctor must re-certify the patient. Patients must keep track of the expiration date on their own as notices are NOT sent out.
Q Does the Narcotics Enforcement Division Require a Registration Fee? Yes, there is an annual fee of $38 for registration. If the patient has a primary caregiver, that person must also pay a $38 annual fee. There is a charge of $10 for a duplicate registration certificate.
Q Can My Physician Assistant or Family Nurse Practitioner Authorize Medical Use of Marijuana? No, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners are not covered by the Hawai`i medical marijuana act. The only people who can meet the certification requirements of the Act are physicians licensed by the state of Hawai`i.
Q Why Can’t I Get Medical Marijuana at a Pharmacy? Pharmacies are federally regulated and can only dispense medications that are approved by the FDA and prescribed by a physician. Because marijuana continues to be classified by the federal government as a “Schedule I” drug, it cannot be prescribed by any healthcare professional. There are efforts underway to convince federal lawmakers to allow medical marijuana to be rescheduled and treated the same as other controlled medicines.
Q Where Can I Obtain Medical Marijuana? At this time there’s no recognized legal source for marijuana used for medicinal purposes. The Hawai`i law states, however, that the “acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution [defined as only the transfer of marijuana and paraphernalia from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient], or transportation of marijuana” for medicinal use is specifically protected.
Q What If My Condition or Illness Is Not Covered by Hawaii’s Law? Hawai`i’s law provides that the state Department of Health set up a procedure for physicians and potentially qualifying patients to request that other medical conditions and diseases be added to the list of those debilitating medical conditions currently covered in the Act. As of this writing, the Health Department has yet to establish the necessary procedure, but you can contact the Health Department at 808-586-4400 to check the current status.
Q What Is the Definition of “Mature” or “Usable” as It Relates to the Amount of Marijuana a Patient or Caregiver Is Allowed To Possess? “Usable marijuana” is defined in the Act as any mixture of the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis plant that is appropriate for the medical use of marijuana. Useable marijuana does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant. Although not defined in the Act, a “mature” marijuana plant is generally understood to mean plants in which the flowers are visible to the naked eye.
Q Do Physicians Risk Losing Their License To Prescribe Controlled Substances If They Participate in the Program? No. As a practical matter, participating physicians should be protected from loss of their licenses to prescribe controlled substances if they confine their actions to those required by the Act. Of the thousands of certifications that have assisted Hawai`i citizens in acquiring marijuana for medical purposes since the program began, none has resulted in the loss of a physician’s DEA license to prescribe controlled substances.
Q Is My Use of Medical Marijuana Covered by Insurance? No. The Act explicitly states that insurance companies are not required to pay for medical marijuana.
Q Is a Patient’s Confidentiality Protected? Yes. However, upon an inquiry by a law enforcement agency, the Department of Public Safety will verify whether a particular qualifying patient has registered with the Department and may provide reasonable access to the registry information for official law enforcement purposes.
Q Why Is Getting the Registration Card Important? The registration card is evidence of compliance with the law and should ordinarily prevent an arrest. Without the card, the patient or caregiver may be arrested and held under arrest until the patient’ s right to use medical marijuana is confirmed.
Q What Should a Patient Do If Accused of an Marijuana Related Offense? Politely show the officer your registration card. They may then contact the Narcotics Enforcement Division to verify your registration. If the officer still questions the validity of your registration, you may wish to contact an attorney. If you do not have and cannot afford a lawyer, ask to call the state Public Defender’s office. The phone number on Oahu is 586-2200. On the Neighbor Islands the numbers are: Hilo 974-4571; Kona 323-7562; Kaua’i 274-3418; and Maui 984-5018.
Q Can Minors Use Cannabis Under Hawai`i’s Act? Yes, Minors under 18 are protected under Hawai`i’s law if their physician has explained the potential risks and benefits to both the qualifying patient and to their parent or legal guardian, and if the parent or legal guardian has consented in writing to allow the use; to serve as the minor’s caregiver; and to control the minor’s acquisition, dosage and frequency of use of the marijuana. A parent or guardian must serve as the minor’s primary caregiver and follow the certification and registration procedures outlined above.
Q What Should I Tell My Employer If I Am Subjected to a Drug Test? The Act prohibits use of medical marijuana in the workplace but is silent regarding the employer’s rights and duties regarding medical marijuana. It is suggested that employers treat medical marijuana like any other prescription drug that might impair ability.
Q Can Patients Living in Rental Units or Federally Subsidized Housing Participate in The Program? As noted earlier, despite Hawai`i’s medical marijuana act, federal law or federal rules and regulations still prohibit the use, possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana. Any federal laws or rules prohibiting the use of marijuana in federally subsidized housing would likely override Hawai`i’s law. Patients occupying rental units or federally subsidized housing who wish to use medical marijuana should seek legal guidance on this issue.
Q Are There Any Limits on Where Marijuana To Be Used for Medical Purposes Can Be Cultivated? The State’s medical marijuana act contains no requirements or limitations on where marijuana for medical use can be grown. However, the regulations of the Department of Public Safety limit the places where marijuana can be grown to:
(1) the qualifying patient’s home address;
(2) the primary caregiver’s home address; or
(3) “(an) other location owned or controlled by the qualifying patient or the primary caregiver that is approved by the administrator and designated on the registry certificate issued by the department.” These limitations may be challenged in court since the law does not specify that the Department has authority to limit the place of cultivation.
Q If I’m Covered under the Hawai`i Medical Marijuana Act Can I Use Medical Marijuana in Other States? At this time Montana is the only state to honor the Hawai`i law. Hawai`i does not recognize medical marijuana certification from any of the other eleven states with medical marijuana programs.