Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Patients Multiply

Number Of Medical Marijuana Patients Soars

Reported by: Andrew Pereira
Email: apereira@khon2. com
Last Update: 12:39 am

Since Hawaii's medical marijuana law was passed nine years ago the
number of registered patients has skyrocketed.

According to figures released by the Department of Public Safety, 255
patients were registered to legally use medical marijuana in fiscal year
2001. But by fiscal year 2009 that number had grown to 5,190.

As of June 30 the Big Island had the most medical marijuana patients
with 3,160 people registered. Maui came in second with 1,092, followed
by Oahu with 691.

Kauai had 208 registered patients while Molokai had 34 and Lanai only 4.

Supporters of the medical marijuana law believe the number of registered
patients would be even high if access to the drug were made easier.

Unlike California which allows medical marijuana dispensaries, Hawaii
patients are forced to grow their own or buy it illegally.

"What's missing in the Hawaiian law is where do we go to get
it," said Joe Rattner, an HIV patient who smokes marijuana to
increase his appetite.

Under the Hawaii statute registered patients are allowed to have three
mature marijuana plants on their property, four immature plants and
three ounces of usable marijuana.

Rattner was having some success growing his own plants until his
backyard was broken into and the would-be thief or thieves tore out his
landscaping. Rattner's mother is now forced to buy the drug

"You send people like me to the streets to try to find marijuana
because it's saving my son's life," said Lila Rattner. "And I
will do what I have to do to keep him alive."

Joe Rattner is part of a legislatively approved working group hoping to
create non-profit marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. Rattner has the
support of a key lawmaker.

"Whether something like that could be implemented immediately or
would have to take a couple of years we'll have to wait and see,"
said Sen. Will Espero, chair of the Public Safety Committee.

A bill which would have allowed the Department of Health to create
marijuana dispensaries was shelved during the last legislative session,
but could be revived during the upcoming session in January.

"Whether we have any of the votes to make it happen I cannot say at
the moment," said Espero.

Have a news tip? Contact Andrew Pereira at 368-7273.

http://www.khon2. com/news/ local/story/ Number-Of- Medical-Marijuan a-Patien\
ts-Soars/EH6hygiK3k q01QGyaI09oA. cspx

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