Going To Pot

February 19th, 2009 – Hawaii — Nearly a decade after Hawai‘i became the first state to approve marijuana for medical use, George Cohn and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patients like him still have no access to the medicine their doctors have prescribed. These people, many of them elderly, most suffering from intense pain, are caught in a Kafkaesque web.

Hawai‘i law allows patients to possess marijuana, but does not create a way for them to obtain it. Unless a patient or an approved caregiver can successfully grow their own—no easy task, especially when you consider that there is no clearly legal path to obtain the seeds with which to begin—they are out of options.

“I’m legally blind, I can’t grow the plants. I can’t even get the seeds! And I haven’t been able to find someone to grow them for me,” says Cohn. “I could turn to the black market, but I can’t afford that.” Besides, Cohn says, the law is the law. “I’m not interested in breaking the law. We’re supposed to follow the law, isn’t that the point?”

Jeanne Ohta, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i, says she hears from patients like Cohn all the time. “We get various different questions, but they all go in the same direction. ‘I live in a condo, or on a military base. What can I do? I go to the VA hospital, the doctors won’t recommend medical marijuana for me. I got my card, where do I go?’ They don’t know where to get marijuana [and] they really don’t want to go to the criminal market. What people don’t realize is, these are law abiding citizens who want to stay that way. They want to obey the law.” Full article here.

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