The term “medical marijuana” could soon be scrubbed clean from state law and replaced instead with the phrase “medical cannabis.”
Lawmakers passed a bill this year that requires the state to make the change in state statutes, Hawaii Administrative Rules and in all state Department of Health documents, websites and medical marijuana program materials. The bill is awaiting approval by Gov. David Ige.
Supporters of Senate Bill 786, introduced by state Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Oahu, say the word cannabis is most appropriate and accurate. Bill language says the word marijuana “carries prejudicial implications rooted in racial stereotypes” from the early 20th century, when the drug first was criminalized in the United States.
The bill garnered support from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, the Community Alliance on Prisons and other groups.
If Ige signs SB 786, or allows it to pass without his signature, the DOH has until December 2019 to make the switch. Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said in an email that duty will fall on existing staff and “no additional funds will be used to make the change.”