Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Program

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program has sparked fierce debate over the past decade. Some view it—and use it—as medicine, while others contend it is a dangerous drug, widely abused. How does the program work, and who is involved?


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How Easy is It to Get the Card?

You might have heard how ridiculously simple it is to get medical marijuana in many California dispensaries—it’s one reason Hawaii law enforcement opposes setting them up here. But how legit are the medical cannabis clinics in Hawaii? I decided to find out,  using my own real medical condition—migraines.

I attempted to get blue cards from four Oahu clinics— you might have seen some of these clinics’ ads on the back page of the Honolulu Weekly—and it’s not as easy as you might think. 

First, walk-ins aren’t allowed; you have to set up an appointment. My first call was to a clinic in Ewa. The friendly woman who answered said the physician could help me, but first I had to transfer my medical records. “It says on the website the doctor can help me even if I don’t have medical records,” I said. “Oh no, you have to transfer them first,” she replied. I called back the next day and spoke with someone else but got the same answer.

Same story at the next clinic I tried. The man who answered the phone wouldn’t even tell me where their office was located, aside from King Street.

The last two two Oahu clinics I tried listed 1-800 numbers that went directly to automated recordings. My messages were returned a week later by representatives in California and Oregon, again telling me the same thing.

I never did set up an appointment. If I transferred my medical documents, I could have secured an appointment and a physician might well have recommended me for medical marijuana. But it would have taken a while. Teri Heede, a registered Hawaii user, says it took her six months to get her card. Not as carefree as California.

3—The number of patients who violated the Medical Marijuana Law in 2010.

Infograph data sources: the Narcotics Enforcement Division (June 2010 statistics) and the Honolulu Police Department (August 2010 statistics).

 

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