The April meeting of the Act 230 Legislative Working Group tasked with improving the laws and regulations overseeing Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana industry came to a close today on April 12, 2017. In the audience were almost a dozen members of the Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance, representing every aspect of the industry. The Committee heard from Maui dispensary, Pono Life Sciences (Maui), about their progress, plans, and obstacles to development. The Department of Health gave a brief update on the status of the registry system and the dispensary system. Co-Chair Representative Della Au Belatti provided a brief overview of current legislation in the 2017 session. The Committee approved its draft report to the legislature for 2017. The various subcommittees gave interim reports on their meetings and progress; and the meeting closed with audience questions and answers expressing the public’s growing concern about the increasing delays in the program.
The University of Hawai‘i Public Policy Center administers the operations of the working group and posts all documents generated by and for the committee to their website. If you would like to sign up for the working group’s email list, email your request to Act230wg@gmail.com.
This article will cover everything that happened in the meeting today in a detailed narrative, much like a Q&A, organized according to the meeting agenda. If you would like to watch the meeting yourself, it aired on Olelo Channel 49 at 12:30 pm, April 12, 2017, entitled Act 230 Working Group. If you have any questions about the meeting, or about how to get involved, email us at email@example.com or find us on Facebook.
Panel Members Present and Review of January Meeting Minutes
The meeting began with a brief introduction of all of the committee members. The list of participants at today’s meeting and their affiliation include:
Present Panel Members
- Representative Della Au Belatti, Co-Chair
- Senator Rosalyn Baker, Co-Chair
- Representative Joy San Buenaventura
- Scottina Ruis, Medical Marijuana Registry Program Coordinator
- Keith Ridley, Hawai‘i Department of Health, Office of Healthcare Assurance
- Christopher Garth, Executive Director, Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance
- Carl Bergquist, Drug Policy Forum
- Wendy Gibson, Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawai‘i
- Michael Takano, Pono Life Sciences, Maui CountyDispensary
- Richard Ha, Lau Ola, Hawai‘i County Dispensary
- Stacy Kracher, APRN/RX
- Karen Kahikina, Department of Transportation, Airports Division
- Rob Lee – Department of Transportation, Airports Division
- Patricia Wilson – Honolulu Police Department
- Jari Sugano – Guardian of a Patient under 18
- Bill Jarvis – Patient
- John Paul Bingham – CTAHR
- Michael Contrades – Hawai‘i Police Department
- Thayne Taylor – Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance, Kauai
The working group is administered by Dr. Susan Chandler and the University of Hawai‘i Public Policy Center, with assistance from Center Director Collin Moore; Dr. Michelle Ibanez; and Joy Agner, policy assistant.
The Agenda for the April meeting were approved with changes – Date was April 12, not April 8.
The minutes from the February/March meeting were approved with changes – Need to identify the female on the phone at the last meeting.
Q. Thomas Willis – What is a budtender?
A. Michael Takano – Dispensary clerk, sales person.
Dispensary Presentation: Pono Life Sciences (Maui)
The meeting began with a presentation from Pono Life Sciences (Maui), one of two Maui county dispensaries. Each of the dispensaries will be presenting over the next few months to update the Committee about their progress, their contact with current patients, and any obstacles of general application that they are facing.
Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC (PONO LIFE MAUI), was represented by Michael Takano, CEO.
Presentation and Notes:
First Slide: Hawaii’s leading provider of patient-focused, scientifically-oriented medical cannabis
The next slide was a detailed timeline that contained state milestones and PONO LIFE MAUI milestones since the passage of the dispensary bill in 2015.
This is the path towards safe, legal access to medical marijuana dispensaries for patients in need. It is important to recognize, based on statute, that we were legally able to sell as of July 2016, but in practice we are still not able to sell.
The purpose of this presentation is the how and the why of that delay.
Some of the assumptions made when the statute set forth a legal way to sell in July 2016, included required conditions for software and labs. We’ve stayed close to these topics in our preparation because they are imperative, and when those milestones slip, everything else slips along the way. This makes it difficult to answer when we are going to open.
- Individual Licensee, Community Liaison – William Mitchell, MD
- CEO – Michael Takano
- Chief Scientific Officer – Raquel Bueno, MD, F.A.C.S
- Chief Agronomist – Dean Okimoto
- Director of IT – Keone Kali
- Director of Security George Kaho’ohanohano
As we have developed, if we were slow in some aspects, we want to improve in others – Dedicated fiber, integration with DOH departments, and de-risking other elements – we are trying to be there to help DOH when we can.
Data and Research
We are patient-centric and conduct daily polls of stakeholders to inform this approach. We’ve come across significant research that shapes our mission, including:
- 76% of doctors approve of medical marijuana use (Adler, et al. New England Journal of Medicine May 2013)
- Lower opioid overdose death risks are associated with state medical marijuana laws (Bachbuber, et al. August 2014
- 92% of patients say that medical marijuana works (Public institute and CDC, California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2012)
We have conducted research and had conversations with local physician boards. The doctors need to know that it works for patients. Patients need, want, and can benefit from the product. Clearly in the hardest cases of cancer and seizures this may not be the case, but the number is still significant.
Here, we compare US trends and the PONO LIFE MAUI Approach in regards to Qualifying Conditions, Product Delivery, and THC-CBD delivery. People are using medical marijuana as pain medication and as an exit drug from opiates used for pain.
Based on the early stages of the program we can create flower, oil, and manufactured products, but US trends are moving away from smoking flower to manufactured products. We are working to create a balanced approach to the benefits and risks of each product type.
Through our polling and data on what products are selling and why in other states, we’ve found:
- 57% of patients want high CBD products
- Only 14% are looking for high THC products
- 28% want a mild concentration of THC
So in other states, we see that after the initial excitement, THC strains decline in value, and CBD strain’s value rises. We hope to bring research and numbers to this working group about this moving forward.
The PONO LIFE MAUI Formulary
We have 38 strains – a handful are proprietary. We are manufacturing marijuana products. Here are some pictures of our products, not quite what we want them to look like yet! (Picture of lozenges created as of March 2017, no active ingredients). We are working to balance the product mixes and the THC/CBD mix.
So, why are we here, what is the end game? Economic Impact
There are many potential benefits including revenue, jobs, salaries and wages, government tax revenues, qualitative health and safety, community, and total economic benefit.
But really, for us it is all about a safe, legal, accessible, and adequate supply of quality assured medical marijuana for patients.
Now, we have to take a balanced approach to the many gates between us and the first sale for patients.
Industry Challenges and Obstacles
State of Hawaii – DOH: Their hearts are in the right place, but they are cumbersome. We are losing money every month waiting for things to happen outside of our control. We could have begun selling last July according to statute, but we obviously could not have in reality because their systems are still not ready.
Laboratory: This is a huge potential bottleneck! We need to know what to hand off, who takes it and transports it, and what they are testing for. There are still a lot of things missing including certification, testing protocols, standards, and tracking systems.. We arrive at consensus on an issue, then the policies change.
As simple as it sounded in 2015 with the RFP for the seed-to-sale tracking system, and the near-term award, the challenges in contracting, training and orientation, integrating with production centers, integrating with the registry and dispensaries, and integrating with labs, is time and money for the dispensaries. That is borrowed time on the patients’ behalf. We are ready, but clarity of the process could certainly help, as well as priorities to help make decisions.
Cash Management – This is a big issue as a responsible employer. It’s not just patients and communities at risk, most victims of cash management issues are employees – taxes, etc… It is a huge issue and as we address it, it could solve another major challenge which is banking for this industry. But that is just the short term of banking for the industry. In the long term, if we are successful, where do our investors go with their money? They will be at risk.
Federal – Federal law and policies are a challenge and obstacle for all of us. The need and benefits of the product are there. There appears to be a pathway through state law, but I don’t want to fail to deliver after risking time, capitol, and reputations. We want to be successful.
Uncertainty Ahead – How do we plan ahead? How does the state budget for the program when budgets are tied to tax revenue, but the dispensaries can not open. Who pays for that? DOH is funded by the industry, but that is only 8 licensees and we are working hard to speed up the process and make the industry viable, but so far unsuccessfully. It’s not 100% of businesses that survive, and when you are stacking on problems and pain to that percentage, how do we deal with that situation?
Information Technology and Security Slide
This slide demonstrates what we’ve been doing while waiting for DOH approvals. We’ve installed fiber optics, all our data is housed locally, we are led by a former state CIO in technology issues, we have real time data exchange with all of the required tracking softwares, we are PCI and HIPAA compliant, we are SSAE 16 SOC 1,2,3 compliant, we’ve done extensive staff training, among many other elements of progress.
Contact Information for Pono Life Sciences (Maui)
415 Dairy Road, Suite A
Kahului Maui Hi 986732
Open 7 days a week
Q. Carl Bergquist – We talked about this before the meeting – What is your approach to allowing access to the public?
A. Michael Takano – I can’t say a lot right now, but we have lots of local partners – trying to educate the public, not just the patients. We have initiatives for patients, caregivers, parents, and children. The best way is to have reactive stakeholders involved in addressing the community, who start by addressing the obstacles. Current law is that without a card, one cannot be on our premises. That definition, while we respect the law, begs the question how can we achieve the best public good to properly address and educate the public and community at large? We are waiting for DOH response to our options before we say more.
Q. Rep. Della Au Belatti – Mike, you talked about dealing with multiple agencies and cumbersome progress. Are ya’ll being bounced around, should we make them come together?
A. Michael Takano – We are all learning and getting better as we go. They are all great communicators individually, but when it comes time for all of that information to be shared together, especially after it changes, that is a little chaotic. DOH is communicating with the NED and the labs, but we often have to get the information independently from the ancillary agencies. It would make it easier if we were to get a policy that comes out, and then, when there is a change, that it is announced to all stakeholders. The biggest challenge is inconsistency in laws and rules and lack of vision of the end. A big difference is how to start off with safe access to medical marijuana, compared to the black market, or pharmaceutical grade. Where do we start? We feel we have a good starting point based on our team and our members; 60% are licensed professionals, 30% are physicians.
Q. Rep. Della Au Belatti – How are you doing with county agencies?
A. Michael Takano – Fantastic. Mayor Arakawa and his team on Maui are readily available, I speak with them multiple times a week, and they are right behind us. We get each stakeholder around the table and flush things out and get them done as we create a vision of what we want for the community. There are a lot of incongruities, as an example, the NED had their own rules for how to safeguard the production centers, so their initial advice was 8-foot-high perimeter fencing, but that doesn’t match county ordinance. So how do you solve that problem? As elegantly as possible. The great news is that once demonstrated that we can achieve the safeguards without an 8-foot fence, they were delighted and gave us a permit and variance, without having to bring the partners together. Parts of things are working.
Also, Dean Okimoto, George Kaho’ohanohano, and Raquel Bueno are here for questions.
Q. Thayne Taylor – Not being able to sell product yet, its been a long time to finance the operation. How much more than you thought you would spend do you think you have spent?
A. Michael Takano – We don’t have the fullest grasp of that yet. We are a private company and can only share so many details. But we have spent double so far. Our larger question is, can we even meet our goals?
Q. Thayne Taylor – Is this driving up costs for patients?
A. Michael Takano – Yes. Look at New York. And if we are taxed, that raises the price of the product. The barrier of entry has been incredible.
Q. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura – Are all permits and tracking on track right now, are you almost ready to sell?
A. Michael Takano – Not legally.
Q. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura – What are you waiting on?
A. Michael Takano – Breaking it down: Everyone has software to integrate directly and indirectyl.The labs have to integrate and so does the registry program. And then they have to test it. And then get final clearances. No, we are not ready to sell today. We will hear more from Keith regarding the testing and integration timeline.
Q. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura – Is the issue still software?
A. Michael Takano – No – That is just one illustration of what dispensaries are going through. As another example, when we look at labs, it had not been articulated that there were all of these extra steps and undefined ways to test the product. For this group, what is our primary objective? There needs to be a primary objective and long-term vision. When it comes to the growing process we were under the impression that the starting point is testing cured oil and manufactured product. Now, that might be different, we may have something else to test. People want to test every element in the growing process, and they are hurting our goal of getting product out.
Q. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura – Regulatory obstacle, or things you’ve learned that you didn’t expect?
A. Michael Takano – We didn’t expect the policy elements to be so dynamic. That makes it difficult for everybody because it is not easy to keep up with the changes and constantly interpret inconsistencies.
Q. Wendy Gibson – What kind of training do dispensary workers get?
A. Michael Takano – Numerous. We have active stakeholders, licensed professionals, so they are not just trained, but certified. Regarding new employees, for example, George, our Director of Security and Compliance, is certified by the state to train employees on security issues. When it comes to our product specialist (bud tenders) we have some who are familiar with products and some who are medical assistants. Most of our employees are certified in related, known fields. The training goes further – health, destigmatization, BioTrack, and other safeguards.
DOH Monthly Update
After the Dispensary Presentation, DOH gave a monthly update on the progress of its Registry and Dispensary departments.
Patient Registry Program
Patients registered on March 31st: 16,275. This is still going up as expected. Currently it takes approximately 11 business days for processing. The queue is 1200 deep. That is an increase over last year.
We are announcing the petition process for new conditions through the Newsletter, which will go out at the latest by tomorrow. This outlines the petition process. The deadline is of special note – June 16. Must meet requirements and criteria. We will hear this calendar year if it is received by that date. Anything received after will likely be heard next year.
Staffing – We anticipate a new body by the end of the month. Filling with an 89 day hire. This should shorten the turnaround time back to around 5 days.
Stacking – We are still seeing problems with stacking. Lots of applications all requesting to change to the same growsite at a single location. It is not technically illegal, and we have no ability or manpower to inspect to ensure that particular instances remain in the law.
Q. Stacy Kracher – An 11 day turnaround?
A. Scottina Ruis – That is 11 business days for us to review, if it is not returned, then it goes out. Otherwise, it goes back to physicians or patients as applicable. Please review the applications before submitting them. We still get a lot of returned mail. Make sure your address is correct!
Q. Stacy Kracher – So a 3-4 week turnaround?
A. Scottina Ruis – Depends on the lag from when the physician submits to when DOH reviews. We can’t control how long the physicians take to resubmit. Depends on the the physician, office, and process.
Q. Michael Takano – Internal forecast? Are you prepared for the growth in patient numbers?
A. Scottina Ruis – We anticipate 50-100% increase based on other states. Looking at 25% conservatively. We are seeking two more positions, we need that request to make it through this legislative session to adjust to the growth.
Q. Michael Takano – Can you change the time period before a patient has to renew their card?
A. Scottina Ruis – That is up to the legislature. They will have to change that.
Q. Rep. Della Au Belatti – Is that [request for positions] in the legislature now?
A. Scottina Ruis – It is in the Senate Budget worksheet, but not in the House.
Q. Michael Takano – What is your capacity now?
A. Scottina Ruis – All of our staff have worked a total 60 hours of overtime each for each of the past two quarters. Over time ended on 3/31/17. We have a potential new staff coming on board via 89-day hire by the end of the month. We also plan to make changes like electronic change forms, trying to implement to the extent that we can.
Q. Michael Takano – You mentioned last times that you only pick up the phones when you can. Is that still occurring? Can dispensaries assist?
A. Scottina Ruis – If any one wants to know how to get a hold of the Registry Department, please refer them to firstname.lastname@example.org. So staff can respond as as times allow. We do have call hours. Tue and Thurs, 1-3 ish, but now since we are behind schedule again, no phone calls from patients or the public. The priority is issuing the cards. Physicians and law enforcement have direct lines and we do answer their calls – but we do not have the staff to answer patient or public calls. As the program grows, we have a relationship with law enforcement, and now we are getting more calls from additional agencies and as patients grow, so do the law enforcement requests.
Q. Michael Takano – What about expedited cards for patients in dire need?
A. Scottina Ruis – We’ve been working on this for several months. We have a sorting capability for the queue so we can try to sort and prioritize applications. Based on previous discussion with legislators and physicians, the priority is cancer patients and minors. But some patients have been on the roll with terminal conditions for 12 years. For those with 1 month-2 months to live, or that need palliative care. We try to accommodate based on physician’s request, nothing in law for or against, but we understand and try to accomodate.
Q. Stacy Kracher – What about a survey to patients based on qualifying providers?
A. Scottina Ruis – We’ve considered many survey opportunities and research. We have the data – but lack the staff and funding. It is on the backburner.
Q. Thayne Taylor – The renewal process is the same as the initial card process. Why and how to help?
A. Scottina Ruis – I hear you. That is the way the law is currently written. They are required to be renewed annually and re-certified by a physician. Some change the physician, some change ailments. Out of my control, hopefully next legislative session.
Q. Jari Sugano – Signatures on electronic documents vs handwritten – why so many handwritten forms?
A. Scottina Ruis – You have a minor, when the system was written originally, and currently the majority of registered patients are adults without caregivers and can renew without supplements [hand written forms]. But we can’t take caregiver signatures and guardian signatures electronically. Minors have it rough, they have to have all guardians sign and agree. Minors are the smallest use population (less than 1% of total registered patients), so it is challenging to allocate funds to it right now. We can consider, but not yet. The majority of patients just have to upload their drivers license, the rest [patients with caregivers or minors] have to submit hand signatures and addendums.
Dispensary Licensing Program
Good news: Things are progressing on track. We did execute the contract to help the integration between BioTrackTHC and the patient registry. We have the contract for 5 weeks. At 8 weeks the integration will be completed. On track for that. Testing is underway. More testing will be performed. Anticipating that it will be completed in early May.
Notices to proceed – Four of eight licensees have notices to proceed to acquire and cultivate product. This requires final onsite inspections that the production center is in compliance with the law. Maui Grown Therapies and Aloha Green received theirs on February 1, Manoa Botanicals on February 9, and Pono Life Sciences on February 14. All are online now. Still awaiting word when the licensees will have their final inspections.
We know at least two licensees have begun work on their 2nd production center. Preliminary inspections conducted. We are happy to do more.
We have conducted 3 unannounced inspections. Those licensees seen as registering product in the BioTrackTHC system are available for surprise inspections, we are going in and doing unannounced inspections. They have noticed that they are compliant with the law.
Retail location status – Zoning inspections are conducted on all proposed retail locations. Happy to do that when licensees identify second site.
The lab is a concern of ours. Moving forward, we are working with three groups. The labs required to provide data about that they can do and what they say then can do. They also need NED certification. At least one lab has performed validation testing using medical marijuana products. We need to see that everything their documentation says they’re able to, they are actually able to do, we want to see that those tests will perform as claimed. This makes NED certification important.
The State Labs Division investigated a lot of stuff regarding pesticides. They determined Oregon’s list was important, and adopted it. They also developed a checklist for labs to submit information for all of the issues they need to solve to submit to the committee. We anticipate at least one certified private laboratory before summer. Lab effort can’t be underappreciated or under-stressed. Millions have been spent by dispensaries and labs. We are optimistic that dispensaries will have one or more available to provide product to their customers.
Our most recent Newsletter is available on the DOH website.
We’ve completed the work on hosting all of the dispensary license applications that we received last year. Redacting is finally finished. It was a long and deliberate process to work through the hundreds and hundreds of pages per application. 66 applications in total.
We are almost at that time now where licenses will need to be renewed. Licensees will be notified this month about the renewal process. Though most of it is contained in the admin rules. Because of timing, we may waive the 60 day requirement. We want them to renew their licenses before they expire.
We have been providing education to the public and various groups. I spoke at the Hawaii Society of Business Professionals last month. Next week we will be briefing at a local conference. There will be a Kapolei community meeting. We will conduct drug recognition expert training for local police. On Kauai on June 20, we will speak to the Hawaii State Association of Counties and their conference.
Q. Sen. Rosalyn Baker – Product cannot be sold until tested by the lab?
A. Keith Ridley – Yes.
Q. Sen. Rosalyn Baker – Is that a barrier if no labs are on the island? So how close to having labs on each island?
A. Keith Ridley – We are at various stages. One is very far along. We are optimistic that before summer – April 30, May 31st… Additionally, they can transport samples for testing on other islands if there is not testing lab on the island where the dispensary is.
Q. John Paul Bingham – What is the through put of lab. Can they handle all of the samples?
A. Keith Ridley – We hope the others will be close behind. We do not know the output. Depends on staff and instrumentation. We are asking for that information.
Q. Thayne Taylor – Current licensees have to pay a renewal fee, why? Nothing is in place?
A. Keith Ridley – It is the law, required by the statute. We can’t waive the statute. We still have to comply with license requirements. So enforcement measurements include taking licenses away if they don’t meet requirements.
Q. Jari Sugano – Current staffing of DOH medical marijuana program, will we be getting staff on neighbor islands?
A. Keith Ridley – No plan for neighbor islands. We have 5 positions. Recent vacancies so we are looking to fill those positions. There was an unannounced inspection as recently as yesterday as we continue to do our job.
Q. Stacy Kracher – Training – Will you be posting dates of trainings that are open to the community so we can share that information?
A. Keith Ridley – We are happy to place them on the website. The public will have to contact the conference coordinators and pay some fees for a few of them.
Q. Christopher Garth – Did your program ask for more bodies this legislative session?
A. Keith Ridley – No.
Q. Christopher Garth – Any reason?
A. Keith Ridley – There is no immediate need. But we know we will need them. We are experiencing how long inspections take and as we gather information we’ll be able to justify future budget requests.
Q. Carl Bergquist – Regarding laboratories – Is there a chance that patients may be given the chance to test products at laboratories. Discussed with labors or will they have to change things?
A. Keith Ridley – We won’t have to change much. We’ve already checked with one lab via the State Laboratory Division. We will get the word out to the rest of them.
Q. Rep. San Joy San Buenaventura – This is better news than other reports. I understand the huge fiscal issues. Who has the notices to proceed?
A. Green Aloha, Manoa Botanicals, Maui Grown Therapies, and Pono Life Sciences (Maui).
Q. Michael Takano – The Oregon 59 list of pesticides. Is that firm, is that our starting point?
A. Keith Ridley – Yes
Q. Michael Takano – Is it 1 ppm or based on Oregon list?
A. Wanda Chang – State Laboratories Division – That is not firm. The Oregon list was just updated. We are still going with the admin rules that say 1ppm for pesticides. And using Oregon just as a list of compounds, not tolerances.
Q. Michael Takano – When will we have that list?
A. Wanda Chang – We are hoping it will be out in May. We will be different than what is on the Oregon list. We want to consult with the Dept of Agriculture to see what pesticides may be used in Hawaii that might not be used in Oregon.
Q. John Paul Bingham – I was speaking to a lady in Oregon, she said we should remove one compound for high levels of background contamination. But I’m not sure which one.
A. Wanda Chang – It is a good list, but maybe not complete. We will get it out as soon as possible.
Q. Jari Sugano – I have lots of questions for labs. We’ll talk and address in Subcommittee. Same for questions regarding transparency and patients accessing test results in products.
A. Sen. Rosalyn Baker – If we don’t get the lab issue resolved, it will be the next delay. What ever you can do to get that out. If we have all of the other pieces but we don’t give the labs time, then we are not letting the dispensaries go forward. That is not acceptable. You need to move quickly on the labs.
2017 Legislation Overview
A few bills are still moving into conference.
- HB 1488 – Omnibus bill
- A bill to change “medical marijuana” to “medical cannabis”
- A bill to reduce video retention times
- A bill to add additional qualifying conditions
Other bills simply not timely at this time.
Q. Thayne Taylor – HB1488, quick question about the delay in issuing more licenses in HB1488?
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti – This is not the place to discuss that. It is just a proposal that is out there.
(Here is the HDA list of proposed and active bills in the 2017 session).
After the 2017 Legislation Update, the Committee heard from its Subcommittees about their progress.
Education Subcommittee, Chair Stacy Kracher
We divided key stakeholders into subgroups. We are going to conduct surveys to find the types of information and education that will be appropriate for each group of stakeholders.
We had some training for nursing professionals. Offered in person and via teleconferencing.
We are looking at stigma and establishing benchmarks for risks for expecting mothers and other key stakeholders. Hoping to identify additional training sites as well.
Wendy Gibson – One tool we are using is a booklet from DPF Hawaii – A guide to Hawaii’s medical marijuana laws. Now available in electronic form. It will be sent to every MD, DO, and APRN in the state. Let us know if you want us to send you a copy of it or have trouble accessing it. We are working as well to educate other healthcare professionals and available to give the presentation to whomever can put together a group to listen to it. I was also recently invited to work with JABSOM on a CME course.
Products Subcommittee, Chair Michael Takano
We met and discussed challenges that we saw earlier. We are trying to understand what products people need and what fits with the current legislation – what needs to change in the future and why. The first project is a study across all states and the products they are offering. What the legislative intent behind those programs is will give us more knowledge as we go along.
As we met, we are trying to understand the vape issue, not as easy as saying the method is ok, if it is a gateway that these are being used now then that is a risk, or how can law enforcement differentiate the product? So how can we expand the medical side to meet the patient needs. We will be addressing these issues, as we try to find product avenues that aren’t smokeables as a way to help out. One thing is for sure from committee discussions. If patients buy oils – What’s to say they are going straight home to execute the instructions. Is it labeled or dosed if they make it into products themselves? No. But through the dispensary we can. Certainly withDOH we can get there and create better options than those available today.
Q. Michael Takano – Are the reports from subcommittees due at any specific time?
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti – Not at this time, probably in a couple of months over the summer.
Patients Subcommittee, Chair Carl Bergquist
We met once again. Lots of issues, new ones keep cropping up. We are going to assign categories and each member will tackle some of them.
- Patient Access
- Qualifying Conditions
- Protection from Discrimination
- DOH Registry
- Drugged Driving
- Employer Discrimination
This should result in good legislation. Going to see what bills happen this session and what crops up after the dispensaries open.
Laboratory Subcommittee, Chair Rep. Della Au Belatti
The Committee met twice with representatives from all three labs. There were meetings with committee members and not DOH. Stakeholders from the non-DOH side. We had good discussions about products, sampling, process, potency, pesticides, and challenges in certification.
We did discuss a consensus around the Oregon list. Our recommendation is in line with current DOH moves. Our others questions are in line with current questions.
Consideration of Act 230 Interim Report
Rep. Della Au Belatti – Here are a few copies. In summary – It shows we have members, are having meetings, that there is a process we are following, that we have Working Group Subcommittees, and the topics we have come up with. It is just an interim report.
Q. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura – In order to get them into the final report, when will you have the subcommittee recommendations?
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti – This summer is the work summer and we will make recommendations for 2018. Their reports will be included. This is just informational, telling the legislature that we have a committee.
Q. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura – Is there a deadline for subcommittees to report back?
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti – We have to get through conference of this legislative session first.
Q. Will there be a meeting in May? Sine Die (end of legislature session) is on May 4. We won’t know if it was signed until June, there is value in pushing the meeting until June.
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti – TBD closer to June. We can continue to hold subcommittee meetings. We will circulate closer to June.
Q.Susan Chandler – Colin Moore will be the facilitator. I am going on sabbatical.
Q. Jari Sugano – I’m not sure if its appropriate for the interim report. Should the Department of Agriculture be added to the Working Group? The dispensaries not sure what rules to follow. Can we just invite them?
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti – The Working Group members are statute, but we can invite them to everything.
The floor was then opened for public comments.
Q. Pam Lichty – Drug Policy Forum – The draft Interim Report – Says you are completing work on June 30, 2018, but supposed to present the report to the legislature prior to January 2018. Source of the inconsistency?
A. Rep. Della Au Belatti, Sen. Rosalyn Baker – We can present one report and then another report. That was anticipated in the statute. It doesn’t mean we turn into pumpkins at the end of that. Originally there would have been a more permanent sunshine group to follow-up on the industry, but because those groups have stricter guidelines, and DOH couldn’t manage it, we set this up to oversee things publicly. It is not as rigid. So there is value in continuing, transitioning to advising, and working with DOH in the future.
Q. Michael Rollins – PharmLabs Hawaii, Chief Administrative Officer – I disagree that labs will be available by summertime. We are the lab they have said today was the furthest along in the process. We have been working with DOH for over a year on our application. We are now taking steps backward, not completing the issues at had. We are taking steps backwards, they have not been completed in detail to launch the dispensaries. Sample distribution on and between island is not finalized. DOH and the Narcotics Enforcement Division (NED) do not talk to each other and to the lab in the same room. There has been no effort yet to have BioTrackTHC work with the labs. We are still no closer to solving the batch size issue. I disagree that NED allows the labs to hold flower material. It is currently illegal for the labs to have such, even with an NED certificate, we can only purchase a standard from other companies to help calibrate our testing equipment. But we can’t prove that standard with local flower because of NED which bows to DOH and DOH bows to NED.
Q. Jill Lamoureux, CEO, Pure O&M – I represent a client that would like to apply in October 2017. We want to encourage the Working Group, rather than make no recommendations, you should make the recommendation not to postpone the consideration of new licenses from Fall 2017 for another year (via HB1488). Patient growth will increase, capitol demand for the dispensaries is high, and there will be supply issue. This will help with DOH’s financial issues.
Regarding labs – I encourage DOH to take creative rule making authority, they expected to sell by July of last year and that has not yet happened. 18 months from bill passage to open dispensaries in most states is expected. So the delays with BioTrack are normal, however, these lab delays will stop product from getting to market. Some states have tried staggered implementation. One lab can’t handle 8 licensees anyway, especially more labs are scheduled to open later. Other states have allowed the release of untested product where it is simply disclosed to patients.
Please support the adding of conditions via legislation. DOH standards for adding conditions are going to be too strict, because there are no scientific studies or recommendations that meet their criteria. Dissenting opinions should have their voices heard as well. Statistics bear out that demand is going to be high. If you postpone issuing new licenses – they won’t be open until 2020 or later.
Next Steps and Announcements
Announcement: To get on the email list, go to Act230wg@gmail.com. All updates are also posted to the Act 230 website.
The meeting will likely occur in June. Details to come. Stay tuned!
Manoa Botanicals will be presenting at the next meeting; then Hawaiian Ethos, and Cure Oahu over the coming months.
Now it is your turn! The Alliance has a role on the Committee and access to each of the subcommittees – Products, Education, Patients, and Laboratories. We need your thoughts, comments, and detailed considerations for any and all of these committee priorities that you would like to see action or deliberation on. What did we miss? What do you think we should emphasize? The Legislative Oversight Committee will generate the successful legislative and administrative progress the industry needs in the coming years, and this is your opportunity to guide our hand.
We want to know what you think! Email us at email@example.com if you have any suggestions or comments, find us on Facebook, Contact Us through this website, or give us a call anytime. You are invited to be as broad or specific with your submissions as possible.
Mahalo nui for your continued support as we build a better future for Hawai‘i’s legitimate cannabis industry!
It is the Alliance’s mission to provide up-to-date and relevant industry information to the patients, dispensary applicants, and related businesses of Hawai‘i’s growing medicinal cannabis industry. If you are not yet an Alliance member, join today to receive the HDA Industry Update every month and to take an active role in the future of Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana industry. Contact us today and we will send you the Winter 2017 edition of the HDA Industry Update absolutely free to say thank you for your interest!