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Medicinal Marijuana - One year later

by Alicia Michioka, business manager

It has been a little over a year since Governor Ben Cayetano signed a bill making Hawai‘i the eighth state to legalize medicinal marijuana. Additional legislation was required to specify how patients would be certified to receive the drug, and how they would get it. On Dec. 28, 2000, it became possible for patients to register for certification. By March, applicants were beginning to receive their certification from the State Narcotics Enforcement Division.

Even though Hawai‘i has made it possible for all doctors, whether a MD, DO, or DDS to prescribe the drug to patients, and even though as many as 100 patients have received certification, at this point, Hawai‘i patients are still running into problems.

Some physicians are reluctant to prescribe the drug because they are afraid of the consequences of violating the Federal law. A glaucoma patient who calls himself “Mr. Green Bud,” said that in order to receive his certification he had to find a doctor who would prescribe the drug to him. “I had to call around 25 doctors before I found one that would prescribe the drug to me,” said Green Bud.

The use of marijuana maybe illegal under Federal laws, but that law does not prohibit a doctor from prescribing it. After all a prescription is only an educated suggestion from the doctor about treatment. The doctor is not supplying the drug to the patient. As a matter of fact, the state’s provision for medicinal marijuana use does not make the drug legally available to the patient. Green Bud said “I find my medicinal marijuana the same way that all the other drug dealers and users do, on the streets.”

The certification is said to be pretty fast and easy. Green Bud, who received his certification in April, said, “the certification process was pretty simple. Once I found a doctor that would prescribe the drug to me first, I had my certificate in about two weeks.” Although the state has made it possible for patients to use the drug, the Federal Government still has the authority to arrest any patient using the drug, even Green Bud. When the State Narcotics Enforcement Division was asked if any patients had been arrested for use of medicinal marijuana, they said that information is not available.

Green Bud is not worried about being arrested. He was told by the State Narcotics Enforcement Division, that the chances of a FDA agent coming to his home is unlikely, and that the FDA has better things to do than chase down all the medicinal marijuana users. Even though he is not worried about being arrested, he didn’t want to provide his real name.

Medicinal marijuana has come a long way in the last year and more patients are turning to it for relief of their symptoms. The drug has not been proven to cure any pre-existing conditions that a patient may have. However, it is cheaper and has the same effect as the other legally available drugs, including opiates, Demerol, Vicodin, percocates, and Valium, which are known to be addictive.

So what attempts have patients made on using medicinal hemp? Basically, if you have a condition, find a doctor to prescribe the drug and get certified. You could be using it with in a few weeks.


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