Despite overwhelming support from lawmakers, Hawaii Gov. David Ige has vetoed a bill that would have allowed medical marijuana treatments for opioid and substance use disorders.
The veto comes six months after the Hawaii State Legislature introduced the SB 2407, which passed by a large majority in early May. But by late June, Gov. Ige had announced his intention to veto the legislation. And on Tuesday, he followed through, returning SB 2407 to lawmakers without approval.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige Rejects Bill That Would Let Opioid Users Treat Addiction With Medical Marijuana
Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, already allow medical cannabis use to treat opioid and opiate addiction. And Hawaii was prepared to follow the three states’ lead.
The Hawaii State Legislature moved quickly to pass a bill that would allow people suffering from opioid use or addiction to use medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.
After Gov. Ige announced his intention to veto the bill in late June, medical marijuana advocates and state lawmakers urged him to reconsider.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa called the matter “a life or death issue” for Hawaiians. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard echoed Hanabusa. “This legislation has the potential to save people’s lives in Hawaii,” she said.
There is an ongoing opioid epidemic across the United States. Overdose fatalities are the leading cause of death for people under 50.
But statistically, the opioid problem in Hawaii is less severe than in other places. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-related death rates were less than half the national rate in 2017, with 5.2 deaths per 100,000 persons.
Still, opioid-related overdose deaths are on the rise in Hawaii. And that’s the case even though Hawaii has