Category Archives: Drug policy = Hawaii

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

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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.”

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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.

New resource: Changes & Clarifications to Hawaiiʻs Medical Marijuana Program

The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii has published a “frequently asked questions” document on the new bills passed in 2013 and the recent Hawaii Supreme Court decision on patient travel within the state and medical marijuana. Visit www.mcchi.org for more details and to monitor the issue, or see the document here: (PDF, 5 pages) http://dpfhi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/7_1mmjfaq_final.pdf

20th Anniversary Celebration a smash! ‘Olelo rebroadcasts scheduled

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Mahalo to the 90+ drug policy reform advocates that came to our 20th Anniversary Celebration 11/1/2013. We are humbled and strengthened by your support!

Senator Will Espero presented a Senate proclamation acknowledging our anniversary, founding member Richard Miller received a beautiful kamani wood bowl in honor of his contributions to our organization, and Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann amazed the crowd with an astute, inspiring overview of the past, present and future of drug law reform.

Watch the show on ‘Olelo (and mahalo to that all-volunteer crew that recorded it!):

      • Saturday, December 7, 2013, 10:00 p.m., Oceanic Channel 54
      • Monday, December 9, 2013, 7:00 p.m., Oceanic Channel 54
      • Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 8:00 a.m., Oceanic Channel 49
      • Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 2:00 p.m., Oceanic Channel 49

“Celebrating 20 Years of Science, Reason and Compassion ”

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai`i’s 20th Anniversary Event
Friday, November 1, 2013
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Kapi`olani Community College
4303 Diamond Head Road
Ohelo Building ~ Ka`ikena Laua`e Room

HONOLULU – Thursday, October 17, 2013 – In the last twenty years, Hawai`i has enacted drug policy reforms on issues ranging from medical marijuana to treatment-instead-of-incarceration for nonviolent drug law violations with the support of the voters and the legislature. Join us to celebrate the work of those individuals and organizations that have tirelessly worked towards drug policy based on concern for human dignity, effective outcomes, public health considerations, and the well-being of individuals and communities.

Speaking will be Ethan Nadelmann Ph.D., JD., Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance – The Nation’s Premiere Drug Policy Organization . Mr. Nadelmann’s talk will be on “Ending the War on Drugs: Are We Really at the Tipping Point? ”

For more than two decades, Nadelmann helped build a broad-based movement for reform on the strength of a strategic insight that’s both simple and profound: The fight against repressive drug laws isn’t about championing the rights of drug users – even of a substance as popular as marijuana. It’s about fighting against federal overreach and the needless human toll of drug prohibition. Read more about Ethan at: http://dpfhi.org/2013/06/14/the-most-influential-man-in-the-battle-for-legalization-is-a-wonky-intellectual-in-dad-jeans/.

The dinner will also honor Professor of Law Emeritus and former Dean, University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law, Richard “Dick” Miller. Miller has never shied away from the new or the controversial. He arrived in Hawai`i to help establish the new law school at UH in 1973 and in 1993, 20 years later, he was one of the first Board members of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai`i. His guidance and sharp legal mind is still a beacon for the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i in the roiling seas known as the war on drugs.

Tickets are $50 at the door and include a full dinner buffet and desserts. Limited seating is still available for the November 1 event. For further information, or to reserve a seat, please RSVP to info@dpfhi.org or call (808) 988-4386 .

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii was founded in 1993 and remains Hawai`i’s voice
for pragmatic drug policies that minimize economic, social, and human costs.
www.dpfhi.org

Bills to improve patient privacy and safe access to medical marijuana become law

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Advocates call measures a “significant first step” to modernize Hawaii’s thirteen year-old medical marijuana law

(Honolulu, 6/25/2013) Patient advocates celebrated the signing of two bills to improve Hawaii’s 13 year-old medical marijuana program – the first updates to pass the legislature since the program began. Approved today were measures to move program oversight away from the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) and to the Department of Health (“DOH”), and to adjust the type and amount of medical marijuana a patient can legally possess.

HB 668 CD1 moves oversight of the program to the DOH, a move welcomed by advocates as both symbolic and substantive. HB 668 will go into effect January 1, 2015, giving time for the transition between departments to occur.

SB 642 CD1 increases the amount of medical marijuana a patient or caregiver can grow and possess. Lawmakers also added a provision requiring that only a patient’s primary care physician can certify them for eligibility, but later clarified that people covered in the Federal system (e.g. military dependents at Tripler) and those seeing specialist physicians will still have access to Hawaii’s medical marijuana program. This measure will also take effect in 2015 – one day later than HB 688.

Representative Della Au Belatti, who advocated strongly for the bills, said: “Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states.  By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the State can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”

The policy shift is part of a serious discussion on the future of marijuana law in the Islands, mirroring reforms happening around the country. Bills to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol and to remove criminal penalties for adult use garnered unprecedented public support and legislative interest and received hearings, but were ultimately shelved until 2014 with no final votes taken.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program enjoys very strong public support. Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between November 19 and December 4, 2012. Among its findings:

  • 81% of Hawaii voters support access to medical marijuana by sick and dying people under a doctor’s care.
  • 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.

Pam Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, said: “While Hawaii still has important work ahead in updating our medical marijuana program, these bills are a significant first step. The emergence of legislative champions for medical marijuana like Senators Will Espero and Josh Green and Representative Della Au Belatti shows that lawmakers recognize the broad public support among voters. We look forward to working with the 2014 legislature to establish state-regulated dispensaries, and to make additional patient-centered improvements to the Hawaii program.”

Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, added: “In 2000, Hawaii led the nation as the first state to legislatively establish our medical marijuana program. Now, a total of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have programs. Finally, 13 years down the road, Hawaii is moving toward patient-focused policies and away from a law enforcement approach. These bills do not address every concern, but are the first real steps toward a more sensible public policy — we are encouraged and will redouble our efforts next legislative session.”

Patients, doctors and caregivers 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

Hawaii Supreme Court rejects conviction of medical marijuana patient

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“The Hawaii Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Hawaii island medical marijuana user who was found with a small amount of cannabis at Kona Airport.

Geoffrey Woodall had a valid medical marijuana certificate but was still convicted under state laws for the two grams of marijuana discovered when he went through airport security screening.

In a 4-1 ruling Friday, the justices held that a conflict in state laws on the issue must be resolved in favor of Woodhall.

The majority said he must be acquitted.”

http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20130601_Hawaii_justices_reject_conviction_of_cannabis_user.html?id=209773721&id=209773721&c=n (Paywall)

http://mauifeed.com/state-of-hawaii/hawaii-supreme-court-overturns-medical-cannabis-ruling-and-reveals-flaws-in-pot-laws/

http://bigislandnow.com/2013/06/03/supreme-court-rules-in-favor-of-medical-marijuana-patient/

http://hawaiisupremecourtopinions.justia.com/2013/06/01/state-v-woodhall/

Letter to the editor: Patients need legal pot dispensaries

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Honolulu Star Advertiser 5/28/13

Patients need legal pot dispensaries

Like the Star-Advertiser (“Medical cannabis belongs under health auspices,” Our View, May 23), we applaud the Legislature’s improvements to the state’s 13-year-old program. The measures passed this session are a promising start to a much-needed update.

You have the details backward, however, in your description of Senate Bill 642: The new law would increase the amount a patient may possess to 4 ounces, and replace the confusing “three mature, four immature plants” language with a simple seven plants total.

To further clarify, medical marijuana is not “prescribed (and) dispensed” at present. Physicians write a recommendation, not a prescription (which is not recognized under federal law), and marijuana is not legally “dispensed” by anyone.

A tightly regulated state-authorized system of distribution remains the highest priority for patients in Hawaii, especially for those, like many kupuna, who are unable to grow their own and are still forced to the black market to obtain their medicine.

Pamela Lichty
President, Drug Policy Action Group

MidWeek Magazine profiles Dr. David Barton: “Medical Cannabis Safe, Effective”

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http://www.midweek.com/medical-cannabis-safe-effective/

“Thankfully, the Hawaii State Legislature took a bold stand more than a decade ago, in the face of great political pressure, which still exists, and allowed for legal use by chronically ill and disabled people.

Chronic pain is the No. 1 medical condition in the United States, with an estimated 75 million to 100 million Americans living with it. At least 20 million to 25 million Americans live with severe pain. In Hawaii, it is conservatively estimated that more than 100,000 live with moderate to severe pain from all causes, including arthritic degeneration, trauma, metabolic conditions such as diabetes, and cancer or its treatment.”