It’s always been a point of contention in Hawaii that edibles aren’t part of the state’s medical offerings, despite the fact that the state has an established medical market. But, as of last Friday, the state legislature has officially passed a bill that allows edibles to be sold at licensed, medical dispensaries within the state. As long as Governor David Ige signs it into law, the state will open up to the edible market. 

“Passage of HB 2097 is a victory for the state’s 30,798 registered medical cannabis patients,” Randy Gonce, Hawai’i Cannabis Industry Association program director, said in a press release regarding the new bill. “Coronavirus has prompted more patients to seek ingestible forms of cannabis to replace inhalation due to concerns about lung health, so the approval of edibles is welcome news. Hawaii will now join 34 of 35 legal cannabis states that allow for remediation of cannabis plant material for biotic reasons, under specific conditions, as allowed by the DOH.” 

A Case For Edibles And Education

When the state first legalized, edibles weren’t included in the list of what dispensaries could offer to their new patients. Legislators were concerned that they would appeal too much to children and encourage early-age consumption. However, ingesting cannabis specifically is a preferred style of medication for a lot of patients, as it provides holistic effects and doesn’t involve smoking or other harmful ways of consuming. And, in light of all the economic struggles caused by COVID-19, a new avenue for product sales is definitely welcome. 

“We were hopeful that the bill would pass, but there were serious doubts that it would get through this year considering the circumstances,” said Diana Hahn, communications director for Hawaiian Ethos, a Hawaiin dispensary that has made it through the COVID-19 pandemic. The dispensary will start offering edible and drinkable products as long as this bill gets signed into law. 

“The timeline for edible products to roll out under this new legislation is still undetermined … since the bill that is now in front of the governor grants the DOH the ability to create rules around edible products,” Hahn said. “Until those rules are released by the DOH, dispensaries will not be allowed to sell edibles. So many of our patients have requested edibles,” she continued. “It’s great that the Legislature heard this request from constituents and delivered. On the mainland, edibles represent a significant and growing amount of revenue for dispensaries, and we believe this will be true in Hawai‘i as well.” 

In addition to changing the game for edibles, this bill will also allow publicity for educational and scientific events surrounding cannabis, which previously have been limited, and will remediate the use of flower in certain cases as well, all important steps for the industry.  

Hawaii still has a way to go before they are on par with other medical states, and certainly with fully, recreationally legal ones, but many patients in the state would be happy to have access to edibles as a source of medicine available in dispensaries across the state.

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