(alert from the Marijuana Policy Project, http://www.mpp.org)
Two medical marijuana bills in Hawaii were passed by the full Senate and full House of Representatives on March 7!
The Hawaii House of Representatives passed H.B. 1157 / HD 2 by a 32-18 vote (with one state representative not voting). The Hawaii Senate passed S.B. 862 / SD 2 by a 13-12 vote.
This is only the third time in history that both chambers of a state legislature have passed legislation to protect patients from state-level prosecution: Maine did so in 1992 and California did so in 1995. Unfortunately, the governors of both states vetoed those bills. A veto will not occur in Hawaii, as the Hawaii governor actually introduced the medical marijuana legislation in the first place!
The House bill now crosses over to the Senate, and the Senate bill crosses over to the House.
If H.B. 1157 / HD 2 or S.B. 862 / SD 2 is enacted into law, patients who use medical marijuana with their doctors' approval will no longer be subject to arrest and imprisonment under Hawaii state law. It would also protect physicians from being penalized for recommending the medical use of marijuana.
The House Health Committee passed H.B. 1157 in February 1999, and the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee passed the bill with a 7-4 vote on February 29, 2000. On March 7, the full House passed the bill by a 32-18 vote.
In February 1999, the Senate Health Committee passed S.B. 862, and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure with a 5-1 vote on March 3, 2000. On March 7, the full Senate passed the bill by a 13-12 vote.
If both the House and Senate can ultimately agree on the same bill, then Governor Ben Cayetano will definitely sign it into law, as he has indicated he remains supportive.
MPP, DRCNet and the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii have sponsored a web site to build support for the bills. Please visit http://www.mpp.org/Hawaii/ to send a letter to your legislators and to find out how they have already voted. It is important that your legislators hear from you, because the Senate will be voting on the House bill in the days to come, and the House will be voting on the Senate bill.