About the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to educate policymakers and the public about effective ways of addressing  drug issues in Hawai‘i with sensible and humane policies that reduce harm, expand treatment options, and adopt evidence-based practices while optimizing the use of scarce resources.

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i envisions a just society where drug laws are grounded in science, compassion, and public health, and where criminalization is reserved for those who pose a genuine danger to public safety.

The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Is Now Law

For more on this welcome and exciting development, please see the following press release from the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawai’i:

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Dispensary Bill Now Law, Lauded by Advocates

“Diligent efforts” by Hawai’i lawmakers praised

Honolulu, Hawai‘i: HB 321 was signed into law by Governor Ige as Act 241 on July 14th, 2015. Act 241 establishes a framework for medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaiʻi. The Department of Health will establish administrative rules and procedures governing the program, with the first dispensaries set to open as soon as 7/15/16. A “frequently asked questions” guide to SB 321 (now Act 241) can be found at the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii (“MCCHI”) website: www.mcchi.org.

MCCHI and Drug Policy Action Group Executive Director Carl Bergquist said:

“In developing Act 241, lawmakers conducted a rigorous review of the 15 year-old program, seeking reports from the State auditor, studying recommendations from the Dispensary Task Force, and hearing direct input from the public. 88% of Hawai‘i voters support safe, legal access to medication for Hawaiiʻs registered patients statewide, and now, thanks to this diligent effort, the Legislature has listened.

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Resource: FAQ about Dispensary Bill HB321

Note: All information given here is general in nature and is not legal advice.

To view the actual text of the bill, see this document. References to the text of the bill are in the form of (page:line – line).

If you have questions that are not addressed here, please send an email to info@mcchi.org and we’ll try and keep the page updated with answers.

Will this affect my ability to grow my own medicine?

No. (46:5-9) There are no provisions in the law that affect patients’ rights to grow their own medicine. See page 46: Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting a qualifying patient or primary caregiver from cultivating or possessing an adequate supply of medical marijuana pursuant to part IX of chapter 329.

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When Will Hawaii’s Patients Be Able to Buy Medical Marijuana?

When Will Hawaii’s Patients Be Able to Buy Medical Marijuana?

That was the question answered by panelists on Thursday, April 9, 8:00 pm during the Insights on PBS interactive discussion. This show will be aired on Sunday, April 12 at 2:00 pm.

Panelists were: Representative Della Au Belatti, Pamela Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Forum, Doug Chin , Attorney General, and Alan Shinn, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii.

If you missed it, you can VIEW it by clicking HERE.

Administrative Rules Hearings start on January 28th as DOH assumes care of Medical Marijuana Program

Since Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program has been transferred from the Department of Safety to the care of the Department of Health (DOH), the Administrative Rules MUST be changed.DOH MM prgm logo

THE DOH posted a Notice of Public Hearing for DOH Administrative Rules on December 20, 2014. Links to the entire DOH notice are below.

Some highlights of the notice:

The public hearings are scheduled to start January 28, 2015 on the Big Island (Hilo) and will continue on Oahu February 2nd, on Maui February 3rd and on Kauai February 5th.

 

The TOPICS WILL include administrative rules and the procedures for :

** Application processing, registrations, monitoring, and disciplinary actions.

** Maintaining confidentiality for patients and caregivers.

** Petitioning to add a disease or health condition to the list of qualifying  conditions.

**  Physician requirements for issuing written certifications and maintaining medical records.

Please NOTE: Topics will NOT include the medical marijuana dispensary system or the task force recommendations.

The DISPENSARY IS A SEPARATE ISSUE and and the way to give your input for that is through the legislative process –which starts ON January 21, 2015.

Also note that these RULES are required to implement the EXISTING LAWS and CANNOT CHANGE any element of it (for instance they cannot increase plant limits).

 

The public does have an opportunity to weigh in (details are BELOW) and all of your comments, positive or negative are equally important and encouraged.

Once all of the administrative rules are approved, the proposed changes can be officially implemented. These include initiating a process for DOH to add NEW CONDITIONS and improving the program by implementing a fully-electronic system.

 

Please realize that ADMINISTRATIVE RULE making is cumbersome, time-consuming and requires going through many bureaucratic hoops. It can take many months to finalize the rules, especially if substantive changes are made.

Excerpt from the Public Hearing Notice:

Pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 91, notice is hereby given that the Department of Health (DOH) will hold a public hearing for the proposed adoption of Chapter 11-160, Hawaii Administrative Rules, Medical Use of Marijuana.

This proposed new chapter would establish the medical marijuana program at DOH, including A NEW process for DOH to approve debilitating medical conditions, physician requirements to participate in the medical marijuana program, registration of qualifying patients and primary caregivers, monitoring and corrective action, administrative procedure, and confidentiality of information.

 

HEARING DATES and LOCATIONS:

Big Island–Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Time:10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Place: State Office Building, Conference rooms A, B and C 75 Aupuni St. Hilo, Hawaii, HI 96720

Oahu--Date: Monday, February 2, 2015 Time:10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Place: Diamond Head Health Center 3627 Kilauea Ave.,Room 418 Honolulu, HI 96816

 

Maui– Date:Tuesday, February 3, 2015 Time: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Place: State Office Building 54 South High Street, Third Floor Conference Room, Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793

 

Kauai – Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015 Time: 10:30 to noon

Place: State Office Building 3060 Eiwa St., Basement Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766

 

All WRITTEN testimony must be received no later than February 6, 2015, at 4:30 p.m.

PUBLIC TESTIMONY- All interested persons shall be afforded the opportunity to submit testimony, orally and/or in writing, on the proposed administrative rules at the time of the public hearing. Persons who are not able to attend the public hearing may submit written testimony to DOH: by mail at: 4348 Waialae Avenue, #648, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816; or by email at medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov

Any person requiring a special accommodation (e.g., assistance of a sign language interpreter) at the public hearing shall file a request with DOH by email at medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov  or by calling (808) 733-9010 or via relay, at least ten business days before the public hearing.

To see more information on the hearing, please click Public Hearing Notice.

To read the proposed rules, please click Proposed Administrative Rules.

 

 

Talk Story Session in West Oahu (Waianae) on January 17th. Please Join us.

cropped-dpag_bground1The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii would like to invite you (and your friends) to a special event in Waianae.

We are hosting a “Talk Story” session.

It’s free! And, we will provide light refreshments and drinks.

All are invited to attend – if you have colleagues/friends/family that are caregivers, patients or doctors, they are more than welcome to attend. In this 2-hour session you will be given information about:

  1. The newest changes made to the medical marijuana (cannabis) program,
  2. What is happening with efforts to get a dispensary system.

We will discuss what bills may be introduced and we would like to hear your thoughts about them– as we move forward with improving the medical cannabis laws here in Hawai‘i.

YOUR INVITATION

When: Saturday, January 17, 2015        

Time: 1 pm – 3 pm            Cost: Free!

What: Talk Story: A chance to ask about Hawaii‘s medical cannabis laws and Legislative Updates. The information panel is: Rafael Kennedy, (Director) and Wendy Gibson, R.N. (Organizer) from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.

Where: Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center,  86-260 Farrington Highway, Waianae.

Directions: From Farrington Highway, turn onto Mailiilii Rd (a Stoplight).

Just past the Bus stop turn LEFT, at the Main Entrance–down the long driveway and park.

Go up the ramp to the 2nd floor of the Administration Building.

Please contact the Medical Cannabis Coalition if you have questions at  (808) 853-3231 or e-mail at info@mcchi.org.

All of our meetings are 100% confidential—but open to the public—so no video, photography or sound recordings please.

Mahalo and we look forward to seeing you on January 17th !

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2014 has been a huge year for drug law reform efforts!

Aloha Friends and Supporters,

For Twenty-One years the Drug Policy Forum (DFPHI) has served as Hawaii’s voice in creating just, ​sensible, and compassionate drug policies.

You may know us from our two marijuana related projects that we work on with the ACLU of Hawaii:

The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawai‘i a group supporting improvements to the medical cannabis laws in the state and Fresh Approach Hawai‘i that supports the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana for adults.

I’m writing today to ask you for your help, by making a year-end donation, so that we may continue our advocacy activities in 2015. We need your tax-deductible donation today (if possible) to continue serving as your voice for drug policy reform.

 

2014 has been a huge year for drug law reform efforts!

In 2014 we made a lot of headway on drug law reforms, especially on the cannabis front:

  • Two more states (Oregon and Alaska) and D.C. voted to legalize marijuana!
  • The Department of Justice strengthened its “hands-off” policies toward the 23 states with medical marijuana programs. And, congress ​​voted to prevent the DOJ, (including the DEA), from spending any money to fight medical marijuana in these states.
  • The DOJ announced that Native American tribes can produce and sell cannabis on tribal lands if they wish to- even if the state they are in does not permit it.
  • More and more states are decriminalizing cannabis, including eyebrow-raisers like Ohio and Nebraska, and we’ll be working to pass good decriminalization legislation in Hawai‘i Nei​ too.​

​A lot has been happening in the criminal justice system as well​:​

  • A ​.G. Eric Holder has spoken out on over-incarceration and on ​ways to avoid imprisoning non-violent (usually drug-related) ​ offenders.
  • California’s newly passed Prop 47 is implementing early releases and diversion into more appropriate community-based programs.

Across the nation, it seems like we are riding one big wave–But Hawai‘i needs to catch up!

 

The DPFH has been working ​hard to ​create a long overdue medical cannabis dispensary system ​in Hawai‘i and we hope that, with your help, 2015 will be the year. Our successes in 2014 helped create the Dispensary Task force, whose recommendations will help us fix this gap in the medical marijuana law.

 

We anticipate positive changes ​in 2015 when the ​medical cannabis program moves from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health ​, a department that understands public health outreach and patient privacy protections.

 

We’re also working on some important issues (that aren’t cannabis-related): Because the the leading cause of accidental death in Hawai’i is from drug overdoses (from both legal and illegal we are promoting The Good Samaritan/Medical Amnesty law. This will give a limited amnesty to people who call 911 in the event of an overdose. This approach has saved many lives elsewhere by preventing overdose deaths.

 

So there’s lots on our plate and we are feeling energized, but to achieve some of these goals we need your help.

 

A donation to the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i is tax deductible and can be done a number of ways

  1. through our website: http://dpfhi.org.
  2. By clicking here:
    Paypal Donate Button
  3. You can mail a check to:
    Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii,
    PO Box 83
    Honolulu, HI 96810
  4. If you don’t need a tax deduction, we could use your help with our lobbying efforts. ​To do that, please send a check to our, our 501(c)(4) lobbying organization at:
    the Drug Policy Action Group
    PO Box 83
    Honolulu, HI 96810.
  5. A donation of your TIME as a volunteer​ would also be most welcome!

Rescheduling Marijuana—A Brief History of Rescheduling Efforts

Drug-Chart

Marijuana is currently classified federally as a Schedule I controlled substance. This limits how it can be studied or used medically.

  • In order to qualify as a Schedule I controlled substance, a substance must have no accepted medical use, and must have the highest potential for abuse. Marijuana does not meet these criteria.

Although marijuana clearly does not meet the criteria for being classified as a Schedule I drug (of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act)—it was wrongfully convicted and remains locked into that “cell” while advocates work to “prove its innocence”  or at least its medicinal benefits and relative safety.

The Controlled Substances Act does provide a process for rescheduling controlled substances by petitioning the Drug Enforcement Division.  Cannabis could be also rescheduled either legislatively through Congress, or through the executive branch.  Many efforts have been tried and failed. And, there are many “criteria” for being considered a “drug” that marijuana, an herb, can never meet.

In 1972: The first petition under this process was filed to allow cannabis to be legally prescribed by physicians. The petition was denied. In 1985: The synthetic (THC) pill form was originally scheduled as a Schedule II drug and rescheduled in 1999 to a Schedule III class –which allowed doctors to prescribe it.

So, the U.S. government, while acknowledging that marijuana (cannabis) has medicinal value, does not agree with rescheduling it. Instead Federal agencies continue to stick to claims that it has no medical value, lacks safety and is highly addictive. Marijuana will continue to be an outlaw drug alongside heroin, and LSD in the failed war on drugs as long as it remains a Schedule I substance.

Multiple petitions (and the appeals) for rescheduling were denied in 2001, 2002 and 2013.

In 2008, the American College of Physicians called for a review of cannabis’s Schedule I classification in its position paper titled “Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana”.

In 2014

January: a letter penned by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and signed by ten members of Congress was sent to President Obama urging him to reconsider marijuana’s status as a “Schedule I” drug.

June: the FDA conducted an analysis, at the request of the DEA, on whether marijuana should be downgraded,at a congressional hearing.  See Video here

September: World Leaders made recommendations for major changes to global drug policy. The Live-Stream conference included former Presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland.

In October (in CALIFORNIA): What started as a criminal trial led to U.S. District Court Judge, Kimberly J. Mueller agreeing to hear up-to-date evidence about marijuana’s medical usefulness and safety. To reschedule marijuana she and her colleagues must prove that the federal law is misguided and that it is entirely irrational. Decisions will be made in 2015.

Also in October (in IOWA) the Iowa Board of Pharmacy held special meetings to examine the medical value of marijuana and whether marijuana’s classification under state law should be changed. Decisions were deferred into 2015.

Recently Posted Position Statement from the American Academy of Neurolgy: The AAN, for research purposes, requests the reclassification of marijuana-based products from their current Schedule I status so as to improve access for study of marijuana or cannabinoids under IRB-approved research protocols.

And, there will be MORE TO COME in 2016!

The Road to United Nations Special Session on Drugs is scheduled for 2016. It is a special international conference to reassess the misclassification of marijuana and to examine other drug policies.

 

Upcoming Conferences in 2015

Two noteworthy conferences that will address Drug Policy issues are coming up in February and March of 2015.

The FIRST conference is: icbc_sf_logo_big

International Cannabis Business Conference

Februrary 15, 16, 2015    in San Francisco, California.

“The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) is a business and networking event like none other. It is unique in that it brings in the top cannabis attorneys and professionals, as well as politicians, celebrities and journalists from around the U.S. and the world. The days are filled with networking and well-informed and lively speakers, and the evenings are filled with music and laughter. The ICBC is an environment expressly created for learning and networking and is a must attend for any serious Canna entrepreneur.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

Dr. Carl Hart, Ph.D, an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University. Author of “High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-discovery that Challenges Everything you know about Drugs and Society”.

Ethan Nadelmann, founding director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), a driving force behind many successful marijuana law reform measures.

Amanda Reiman, Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA),

Dale Gieringer, the state director of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) since 1987

Anthony Johnson, the Director of New Approach Oregon, the political action committee responsible for the successful 2014 ballot measure that legalized and regulated marijuana in Oregon.

CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER- Currently serving his 13th term in Congress, he represents California’s scenic 48th District. He co-sponsored the amendment to the Omnibus spending bill which eliminated Federal Funding for law enforcement interference with medical marijuana programs.

 The SECOND CONFERENCE IS:

National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference

(3rd Annual), March 27-31, 2015

in Washington, DC.

http://www.nationalmedicalcannabisunityconference.org/

The speakers are not listed, however this conference is welcome to many: Medical cannabis patients, legal professional, medical professionals, advocates, caregivers, industry professionals or professionals working in any aspect of advocacy including federal, state or local government relations, public relations, public affairs, community activism, coalitions, public policy, campaigns, PAC and grassroots, politics, legislation, and communications.

March 31st is reserved for “LOBBY DAY”.  They note that:

“We know that the best outcomes happen when medical cannabis patients and advocates have a voice in the conversation about policies that affect their lives and/or the lives of loved ones.

Research shows that YOUR citizen lobbying is 6x more effective than lobbying from special interest groups.

When you register for the conference we will make an appointment for you to meet with your Representative on our Lobby Day, March 31, 2015.”

Please pass this information along to others who might wish to attend.

Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program Policy Changes may be on the horizon—in the form of a Dispensary System.

Sunrise

The State of Hawaii Auditor’s Sunrise review of House Bill 1587 (a 2014 medical marijuana dispensary bill which didn’t pass) was released last week.

The review confirms that there will be many benefits from establishing a medical marijuana dispensary system–and not just economic benefits.  It recognizes that the current system forces patients to either grow their own or seek it out in the black markets.

The Auditor explained “Because the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law, there is no place within the state to legally obtain marijuana, which forces qualifying medical marijuana patients to either grow their own (MMJ) or seek out black market products,” the report reads. “For this overriding reason, we conclude that regulation of dispensaries is needed to protect the public from potential harm.”

The report goes on to say that without a system of regulated dispensaries, “patients’ health is jeopardized because a product’s strength, strain and lack of contaminants cannot be verified”. The report urges local lawmakers to set up a system of regulated dispensaries to serve patients.

The findings will be immediately useful during the 2015 legislative session when at least one dispensary bill WILL be introduced. The contents of the bills will be based largely upon the recommendations made by the (HCR-48) Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force.

One of the Dispensary Task Force members, State Senator Josh Green, M.D. (D-Kona), who chairs the Senate Health Committee, offered a hopeful sentiment to West Hawaii Today  when he expressed confidence that a [dispensary] bill will pass and be signed by Governor David Ige. He also offered that “The program needs to be very tightly regulated . . . And, it should be about the patients who need it the most having access.”

dispensary SF sparc-wall

The Dispensary TASK FORCE will meet at the State Capitol (from 9 to 11 a.m.) to present some of the recommendations on December 16, 2014.

The minutes from past meetings  are posted HERE.

Could Naloxone be the Antidote for Thousands of Drug Overdoses?

Are thousands of deaths from OPIATE drug OVERDOSES                     preventable — just by giving people the antidote to take home?

Yes! There is a Life-saver. Life ring with line

Over ten thousand cases of overdose reversal were reported between 1996 and 2010 using the drug Naloxone—because the drug users were allowed to have it on-hand, as a “take-home ” drug.

The drug NALOXONE is the antidote for opiate drug overdoses. The list of opioid drugs includes legal, prescription medications such as oxycodone, tramadol, hydrocodone, and codeine as well as the illegal drug heroin.

Naloxone is usually only available in emergency rooms as an IV drug. Many people who are overdosing never make it to the ER because the people with them are too afraid to call 911.

It is NOT widely available, but it could be! It is not a controlled substance but requires a prescription. It is available in two forms. The nasal spray (shown below) is easier to use than the injectable but costs much more. A nasal injection containing the overdose-reversing drug naloxone is seen at the police headquarters in Quincy

Either form could be distributed to people who are at risk of overdosing on opioid drugs.

How many people are at risk of overdosing?

People in the United States consume more than 84 percent of the entire worldwide supply of oxycodone and almost 100 percent of hydrocodone.

In Hawaii, the number of deaths (per year) from accidental overdosing on prescription and illicit drugs has surpassed the number from all other causes, including motor vehicle accidents.

So, there are many people who could benefit from this.

A recent article in Reuters reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the naloxone “take-home” technique could prevent up to 20,000 deaths per year—in the United States alone.

WHO also estimates that about 69,000 people die each year from overdoses related to heroin or other opioids—Worldwide.

Read the whole article here

PROGRAMS on the Mainland: Nalaxone programs have been established in about 200 communities in the United States and are reporting the more than ten thousand lives save as a result of the take-home nalaxone.

PROGRAMS IN HAWAII: The CHOW Project (Community Health Outreach Workers) is one of the sponsors of the 2014 Hawaii Harm Reduction Conference. Take-home naloxone was a topic of discussion at the conference. The Chow Project is working on getting this type of program in place. A Physician Standing Order is necessary for this to happen.

So, although they cannot provide the naloxone until this happens, they do have an Overdose Prevention & Naloxone Manual.

And, to reduce the number of deaths from overdose another harm reduction strategy was recently put into place. It is called the “Good Samaritan act”. It will help to encourage people who witness overdoses to call 911 by giving them some immunity from prosecution.

We can be hopeful that someday many more harm reduction strategies will be in place to help the people living in Hawaii.

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