House and Senate lawmakers on Saturday approved two legislative measures to amend the state's medical marijuana law. The changes are the first amendments to the program, which was initially approved by the legislature in 2000.
House Bill 668 transfers the administration of the state's medicinal cannabis program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health. It also establishes a special fund for the program within the state treasury.
House Bill 642 increases the quantity of medical cannabis that may be possessed by qualified patients from three ounces to four ounces. The measure also allows patients to grow a total of seven mature plants for their own personal therapeutic use. (Under the present law, patients are allowed to cultivate no more than three mature plants at any one time.)
A separate provision added to HB 642 in conference committee limits the authority of who may authorize written certifications for medical cannabis to patients' "primary care physicians" only. Local advocates intend to lobby to amend this language in the 2014 legislative session.
If approved by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, both measures will take effect in January 2015.