Expand medical pot, but keep low profile
A state legislator from Maui
A state facility for patients to grow marijuana for medical purposes has been proposed by a state legislator from Maui.
has proposed a facility where patients using marijuana for medical purposes could grow their own under state protection. While well-intended, such a facility would invite a raid by the Bush administration's Department of Justice and probably would be unnecessary under a more compassionate federal government.
Rep. Joe Bertram would authorize the state Department of Health to create a facility on his island where a patient or caregiver would be given space to grow as many as 98 plants at a time. Such a facility would wave a red flag to federal zealots who stubbornly regard marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the federal government may prosecute medical users of marijuana, even in the 12 states, including Hawaii, where marijuana is permitted for medical use. The Justice Department has been raiding California medical dispensary facilities since then, while Hawaii, which has no marijuana facilities, has kept a relatively low profile.
The state Narcotics Enforcement Division administers the medical marijuana law, and its chief, Keith Kamata, says the growing facility would violate federal law. More than 4,000 Hawaii patients have medical marijuana cards and such a facility would give them false assurance that their therapy with marijuana would be protected.
A better approach would be to improve protection to doctors recommending marijuana treatment for such ailments as nausea, vomiting and AIDS. Existing state law also could be revised to expand the "adequate supply" of marijuana, now limited to three mature plants, four immature plants and one ounce of usable marijuana.
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