The aloha state is continuing its weird mixed message to weed entrepreneurs with a new decision from the Hawaiian Supreme Court. Medical marijuana has officially been kinda illegal on the islands since 2000, but only if you grew your own stuff.
Collectives and caregivers were not allowed until last July when Governor David Ige signed a bill allowing for dispensaries, but even that law came with a stipulation that basically barred anyone who wasn’t already rich from making money off of a dispensary. That piece of legislation allowed for no more than eight dispensaries to be opened in Hawaii, and the only ones eligible to apply for state certification had to prove that they could raise a million dollars.
Now the state is continuing its cock-blockery against weed businesses with a new formal opinion drafted by the state Supreme Court. According to that decision, lawyers are not allowed to assist in the opening of a legitimate marijuana business. So, not only do you have to be or be extremely friendly with a millionaire to get into the weed industry, you also have to essentially be a lawyer or get legal help on the D.D.L. to keep from accidentally doing something criminal in the extremely legally complex arena of medical marijuana.
The decision, as reported by Pacific Business News, is being made as a result of that old chestnut of marijuana law – even if the state says it’s legit, the federal government says it ain’t. And Hawaii can’t figure out a good way to allow lawyers to commit federal crimes.
Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Executive Director Carl Bergquist says the Supreme Court is likely to untie this legal knot “sooner rather than later.”
“My understanding of the opinion is they had no choice to write it as they did, because currently the rules of the Supreme Court don’t have the types of exceptions you see in other states,” Bergquist elaborated. “[The opinion’s] footnote 1 mentions how states have tackled the same exact dilemma —one way is by statute, but an easier way is to have the court itself change its rules, or add a comment to the rule. What the other states have done mostly, it seems, is say you can provide legal services under this state law which is valid, but you must also advise clients about federal law which criminalizes marijuana.”
Dispensaries are expected to open in Hawaii in 2016.