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The Hawai‘i State Legislature on Friday passed a bill that allows cannabinoid-infused edible products to be dispensed by the state’s eight medical cannabis licensees.

It also allows publicity for educational and scientific events and information, and allows for remediation of cannabis flower in certain cases under the oversight of the state Department of Health (DOH), in limited cases.

The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. David Ige, who must sign it before it becomes law.

“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. “Coronovirus 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.”

“Hawaiʻi 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,” he continued.

Diana Hahn — communications director for Hawaiian Ethos, a medical marijuana dispensary with locations in Kailua-Kona and Waimea — said the passage of the bill was welcome and surprising news, as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically shortened the 2020 legislative session.

“We were hopeful that the bill would pass, but there were serious doubts that it would get through this year considering the circumstances,” Hahn said.

Edibles weren’t included in the products permitted in Hawai‘i when dispensaries first began selling medicinal cannabis a few years ago. Hahn said the perception was that gummy-like products would have an appeal to children and concerns of accidental ingestion turned some legislators and their constituents off to the mode of cannabis delivery.

If HB 2097 is signed by the governor, Hawaiian Ethos plans to bring edible and drinkable medicinal marijuana products to market. However, exactly when that will happen and what those products might look like remain open questions.

“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.”

She added that Ethos expects there to be significant demand for edibles once they are legal to sell, bringing value to both consumers and dispensaries.

Ingesting cannabis rather than smoking or vaping it creates different effects, sometimes more physical than mental, and eating or drinking the medicine tends to render those effects longer-lasting. People who have concerns about inhaling smoke are also more apt to favor edibles, Hahn said.

“So many of our patients have requested edibles,” she continued. “It’s great that the Legislature heard this request from constituents and delivered.”

New product lines may also provide more business for dispensaries in Hawai‘i like Ethos.

“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,” Hahn said.

Patients and others who would like to receive updates on the implementation of the new law can visit https://808hicia.org/p4pc.

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