After five months in prison, Patients Without Time cannabis co-op founder Brian Murphy has been freed, according to Wailuku attorney Chris Dunn. According to Dunn, Judge Joseph Cardoza released Murphy on Thursday, May 7 in response to Dunn’s second motion to modify the terms and conditions of Murphy’s probation. Cardoza also suspended the remaining seven or so months of Murphy’s year-long sentence for selling marijuana.
“It included more substantive documentation from physicians regarding his health,” Dunn said, referring to Murphy’s epilepsy and PTSD, for which he had been taking medical marijuana before his incarceration. Cardoza had rejected Dunn’s first motion, which was based more on anecdotal evidence, early this year.
Though Hawaii led the nation in legalizing medicinal marijuana back in 2000, the state Legislature failed to allow for cannabis dispensaries, forcing the state’s 14,000 or so registered medical marijuana patients to either grow their own medicine (a difficult prospect) or obtain it from someone who was growing it (which law enforcement equates with selling illegal narcotics). Murphy attempted to fill a real need, and was doing so until the Maui Police busted him in 2008 (click here for my Feb. 26, 2015 cover story on Murphy and legislative attempts to deal with marijuana dispensaries).
The important thing now is that Murphy is out of Maui Community Correctional Center and back home.
In other, apparently unrelated news, on the same day Judge Cardoza released Murphy the state Legislature passed HB 321, CD 1, which finally legalizes eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses for Hawaii (two of which will operate up to two clinics apiece on Maui).
“While the Legislature made legal the medical use of marijuana on June 14, 2000, the law has remained silent for 15 years on how patients can obtain medical marijuana if they or their caregivers are unable to grow their own supply,” House Speaker Joe Souki said in a May 7 news release sent out by the state House of Representatives. “There has been a desperate need for a safe and reliable dispensary system statewide for medical marijuana for a long time. This bill finally answers that need.”
The May 7 news release from the state House of Representatives included the highlights of HB 321, which still requires Governor David Ige’s signature to become law:
· Allows for eight (8) dispensary licensees in the state: three (3) on Oahu, two (2) on Big Island and two (2) on Maui County; one (1) on Kauai;
· Each licensee may own, operate or subcontract up to two production centers and up to two retail dispensing locations; prohibits dispensary from being located in same place as production center;
· Requires the Department of Health to engage in public education and training regarding medical marijuana;
· Requires the Department of Health to adopt interim rules by Jan. 4, 2016, for the establishment and management of the medical marijuana dispensary system;
· Tasks the Department of Health with accepting applications for dispensary licenses from Jan. 12, 2016, to Jan. 29, 2016, and announcing licensees by April 15, 2016;
· Tasks the Department of Health to select licensees based on minimum requirements and merit based factors including: the capacity to meet the needs of patients; ability to comply with criminal background checks, inventory controls, and security requirements; ability to operate a business; and financial stability and access to financial resources;
· Allows the Department of Health to license additional operators after Oct. 1, 2017, based on qualifying patient need;
· Dispensaries must comply with all zoning regulations and will not be permitted within 750 ft. of a playground, public housing or school;
· Licensees may begin dispensing marijuana and manufactured marijuana products on July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department of Health;
· Licensed applicants must pay (a) $5,000 non-refundable application fee, (b) an additional $75,000 fee for each license approved, and (c) a $50,000 annual renewal fee;
· Establishes the criteria for license applications to require that an individual applicant: be a legal resident of the State for not less than five years, be over the age of 21, and have no felony convictions;
· Establishes the minimum criteria for license applications to require that an entity applicant: be organized under the laws of the state and have a Hawaii tax ID number, have a 51 percent or greater Hawaii based ownership stake, have at least $1,000,000 under its control for each license applied for with an additional $100,000 available for each retail dispensing location;
· Imposes regular general excise taxes onto the sale of marijuana and manufactured products within the dispensary system and does not include any additional taxes;
· Allows qualifying patients to obtain medical marijuana from primary caregivers who cultivate or by personally cultivating marijuana until Dec. 31, 2018;
· Allows a primary caregiver or legal guardian to cultivate marijuana after Dec. 31, 2018, if qualifying patient is a minor or adult lacking legal capacity or who is located on any island with no dispensary;
· Expands the definition of “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of authorizing use to include post-traumatic stress disorder;
· Expands the Department of Health’s authority to conduct criminal background checks;
· Requires dispensaries to allow announced and unlimited unannounced inspections and to conduct annual financial audits; and
· Requires the Department of Health to file annual report to Governor and Legislature on dispensaries.
Click here for the text of HB 321, CD 1.
Photo: Brian Murphy’s Facebook page