SB2215 is a bill aimed at preventing deaths due to overdose. It will prevent witnesses who report overdoses from being prosecuted for possession themselves. This is the number one reason that witnesses to overdoses do not call the police. Most deaths due to overdose are preventable, and the good Samaritan law will help keep people alive.
- SB2215 has passed the PSM committee, but now must be heard by the JDL committee. Please call the committee chair Clayton Hee at 808-586-7330 to encourage him to schedule this bill for a hearing immediately!
For a list of talking points prepared by our friends at Community Health Outreach Work (CHOW), click Here.
The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to encourage the development of effective drug policies that minimize economic, social, and human costs, and to promote the consideration of pragmatic approaches to drug policy based on:
- Scientific principles
- Effective outcomes
- Public-health considerations
- Concern for human dignity
- Enhancing the well-being of individuals and communities
Our sister organization, the Drug Policy Action Group has long been advocating for the addition of a dispensary system to Hawaii’s medical marijuana program. Hawaii news now gives us a brief investigation into why patients and patient advocacy groups need a dispensary system.
Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL
Read the full article here.
In an insightful article in the Atlantic, Jeff Deney writes about the tragic death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In the United States, a wave of heroin addiction and mortality is cresting. Harm reduction is becoming increasingly important as heroin is becoming more popular and more deadly. An excellent article.
We just finished a round of polling, and the data show that support for marijuana reform in Hawaii is surging. Read the report Here.
Mirroring nationwide attitudes, a newly released poll shows sharp increases in support for overhaul of Hawaii marijuana laws.
The new poll, commissioned by Hawaii’s Drug Policy Action Group showed voter support for reform of Hawaii’s policies on marijuana trending upward across the board. Prominent local polling firm QMark Research conducted a statewide, statistically significant poll of 400 Hawaii voters between January 17, 2014 and January 23, 2014. Among its findings:
- Today, 77% of Hawaii voters think that jail time is inappropriate for marijuana possession, an increase of 8 percentage points over 2012.
- Furthermore, 66% of voters are in favor of outright legalization for adult use (an increase of 9 percentage points over 2012).
- A large majority of 85% of voters continue to support Hawaii’s medical marijuana program (up 4 percentage points from 2012) while support for a dispensary system so patients do not need to use the black market to find their medication increased sharply to 85%, a 7 percentage point increase over 2012.
Pamela Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, said: “Around the country and here in Hawaii, voters are fed up with marijuana laws that seem to have been written after watching 1930’s propaganda films like ‘Reefer Madness’. Voters today want reasonable, modern policies that acknowledge marijuana’s value as a medicine, and which address public health and safety, but do not overstate marijuana’s risks as a recreational drug. In 2014, and with 85% of voters in support, we are hopeful Hawaii will establish sensibly controlled dispensaries to ensure safe access to medicine for our medical marijuana patients unable to grow their own, minimizing government interference between a patient & their doctor, and assuring legal access to the most effective treatments for their condition(s).”
Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, added: “Hawaii is ready to choose incremental, sensible policies like decriminalization over extremely harsh ones that add to the nationwide glut of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana — further taxing an over-crowded criminal justice system. The signs have never been clearer that Hawaii’s voters want political leaders to find new ways forward on marijuana policy.” Patients, doctors, caregivers and the public are urged to join the confidential support network “The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii” founded by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and follow the latest news at www.mcchi.org.
Today was the opening of the Hawai`i state legislature’s 2014 session. It has been A wild day at the state capitol with protests, snacks, poi and punch in abundance. One of the most memorable occurences, however, was a moment in the middle of house speaker Joe Souki’s opening remarks. He said:
“Recently, there has been much news about other states legalizing the use of marijuana. While I am not suggesting we go that route, Hawaii does permit the limited cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes. In spite of that, there are no dispensaries or places where you can legally buy cannabis even with a prescription. I think we need to fix that gap in the law before we talk about anything else.”
While some readers will be disheartened to hear that Mr. Souki doesn’t think that we should go that route, perhaps referring to HB699 that would tax and regulate marijuana, it may hint that the legislature is warming to the idea of dispensaries, which our medical cannabis coalition considers the number one legislative priority.
Read the rest of Speaker Souki’s remarks here.
Visit the KITV site to see a video.
Pamela Lichty and Teri Heede, a medical Cannabis Patient, talk to KITV about the upcoming legalization in Colorado, and about how the laws in Hawaii may change in the coming years.
In Hawai’i despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal for patients like Teri who rely on it in order to manage their pain, there is no legal way to get marijuana. Patients must grow their own or ask a “caregiver” to grow for them. Caregivers can only grow medicine for one patient at a time. Hopefully though, this will be changing soon. According to Pamela Lichty, “A dispensary is really a crying need. Many of the more than 10,000 patients are asking for it as their number one ask.” Hopefully, Colorado signals a shift in attitudes about Marijuana that will lead to a more just and more reasonable system in Hawai’i.
Read the full story at nytimes.com.
Mayor Robert Jacob of Sebastopol California is the first mayor to have been involved in the medical marijuana industry. Jacob is the founder of Sebastopol’s only dispensary. This may represent a shift in the way the industry is viewed, at least in California where dispensaries are allowed. No longer perceived as part of the seedy grey market, medical marijuana now seems like an important and revolutionary new field of business. Perhaps mayor Robert Jacob will help to take MMJ further into the mainstream.
An ongoing survey on risky teen activity in the United States was published recently. It showed that while cannabis use was on the rise, teen use of all dangerous drugs, including synthetic marijuana, tobacco and alcohol was in a steep decline.
The Drug Policy Alliance took the opportunity to remind legislators that the important thing is not political posturing, but crafting meaningful policy based on reducing harm to children and young people.
Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance cautioned that we not miss the point of the survey. Higher levels of cannabis use in teenagers is worrisome, but, he said, “It’s important to keep in mind that marijuana pales in comparison to alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants and pharmaceutical drugs in terms of dangers to young people. Indeed for many young people, the worst consequences of marijuana involve arrest for marijuana possession, not its consumption. The findings from the latest Monitoring the Future survey suggest that young people are avoiding problematic drug use more than ever before.
Read the full article here.
The news is very good from California. A series of polls have been showing that popular support for Cannabis legalization is not only widespread, but growing. At this point, statewide legalization in California seems all but inevitable, especially as the success of legalization in Washington and Colorado brings in a flood of tax revenue.
According to UCLA professor and drug policy expert Mark A.R. Kleiman, “Debating about whether to legalize now is pointless, because we’re going to. The smart debate is about how we’ll do it.” This is the same debate that we in Hawaii should be having. In fact, our polls suggest that support for legalization in Hawaii is even stronger than in California. And yet, while California moves from de facto to de jure legalization, Hawai’i is still struggling to authorize dispensaries for our very austere medical marijuana program. Why is Hawai’i so far behind?
A new clinical trial of medical cannabis is slated to begin next month. A cannabis based drug will be used to treat children with severe forms of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome. The impressive anti-seizure effects of cannabis on sufferers of Dravet syndrome was recently featured in the Sanjay Gupta documentary “Weed.”
For more information read the full article from the united patient group. It’s becoming harder and harder to make the case that Marijuana is a drug with “no medical application.” At least we are working on a powerful new treatment for some of the people who need it the very most.