Category Archives: Harm reduction

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Governor Signs Life-Saving Bill To Prevent Overdose Deaths in Hawai’i

 

CHOWDPFHI

 

 

 

Governor Signs Life-Saving Bill To Prevent Overdose Deaths in Hawai’i

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heather Lusk, Director, CHOW Project

(808) 393-4624 hlusk@chowproject.org

Carl Bergquist, Director, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

(808) 853-3231 carl@dpfhi.org

Naloxone Signing

 

HONOLULU, HI –June 20, 2016

The CHOW Project and the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i (DPFHI) applaud Governor David Ige for enacting SB 2392 (Act 68) which was signed into law on June 16, 2016.  The law takes steps to reduce deaths from opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin, by increasing access to, and encouraging the use of, overdose reversal medications such as naloxone. As overdose deaths are increasing in Hawai’i, this landmark law will put these medications in the hands of friends and family best positioned to save the lives of their loved ones.

 

Act 68 creates immunity for health care professionals and pharmacists who prescribe, dispense, distribute, or administer overdose reversal medications such as naloxone.  The Act also authorizes police, firefighters, lifeguards, all emergency medical technicians, family and friends to administer this medication to anyone experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.  Act 68 also allows harm reduction organizations like the CHOW Project to store and distribute them within the communities they serve.

 

Naloxone Saves Lives
Naloxone is a non-narcotic opioid antagonist used to blocks opioids. It has no potential for misuse, and side effects are rare. When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of the drug(s) and restores breathing within 3 minutes. Over 10,000 overdose reversals have been achieved nationwide by using naloxone.

 

“For every 164 naloxone kits distributed, one life is saved.  Hawaii now joins the majority of states in increasing access to this life-saving drug with the passage of this important legislation” stated Heather Lusk, Director of the CHOW Project.   “Half of our participants have witnessed or experienced an overdose in the past couple of years and now we can prevent overdose deaths with education and access to naloxone”.

 

Preventing Overdoses in Hawai’i

 

In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic, Hawai’i is now the 38th jurisdiction to pass a law that increases access to naloxone-type medication.  Not only has drug overdose been the leading cause of injury death for the past two decades for the entire United States, it was also the leading cause of fatal injuries in Hawai’i from 2010-2014—surpassing falls, motor vehicle, drowning and other injury-related deaths. In 2014, there were 155 deaths from drug poisonings/overdoses in Hawai’i, with a total of 1,465 over the past decade.  The CHOW Project and DPFHI truly welcome the collaboration with the Hawai’i Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Services Branch in addressing this burden.

 

“With rare bipartisan support, President Obama recently allocated over one billion dollars in his budget to increase federal funding for overdose prevention. In other words, the timing of this legislation could not be better,” added Carl Bergquist, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i. “Not only does it put necessary legal protections in place, but Hawai’i is more likely than ever to see the money we need to save the lives of those at risk and increase their treatment options.”

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Uruguay Will Become the First Nation to Legalize Marijuana

logo_headerInteresting news coming from Uruguay. Today, Uruguay will lead the way in becoming the first country on earth to legalize cannabis. Read the full article. The world will keep a careful eye on Uruguay in the near future. Let’s all wish them the very best as they take a bold new step into ending the catastrophic global war on drugs.

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

photo-1IMAG1770  IMAG1782 IMAG1776

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

Eric Holder seeks to cut mandatory minimum drug sentences

CNN article and video excerpt: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/12/politics/holder-mandatory-minimums/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Drug Policy Alliance article: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2013/08/today-attorney-general-eric-holder-issue-major-sentencing-changes

American Civil LIberties Union article: http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform-racial-justice/how-process-eric-holders-major-criminal-law-reform-speech

Excerpt from CNN article: “Holder said “unwarranted disparities are far too common” in the criminal justice system, reminding his audience that Obama alluded to some of the issues in remarks he made after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin last month, giving voice to African-American concerns that “there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.” Holder said the nation “must confront the reality” that once “people of color” are in the criminal justice system, they “often face harsher punishments than their peers.” He called it “unacceptable,” “shameful” and “unworthy” of the U.S. legal tradition.”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I changed my mind on weed

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

In a dramatic reversal of his long-help position against potential health benefits of marijuana, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and Medical Correspondent for CNN, apologized for perpetuating misinformation, saying:

“I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true.” (emphasis added)

Illinois becomes 20th State with medical marijuana program

http://mcchi.org/2013/08/01/illinois-becomes-20th-state-to-legalize-medical-marijuana/