Category Archives: Opinion

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

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)

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

Opinion poll on Hawaii marijuana laws shows voters open to medical dispensaries, decriminalization

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Read the reports: http://freshapproachhawaii.org/2013/01/19/opinion-poll-on-hawaii-marijuana-laws/

Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group (the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii)  to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between November 19 and December 4, 2012. Among its findings:

  •  78% support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.
  • 69% think that jail time for marijuana offenses is inappropriate.
  • 57% favor legalized, taxed and regulated marijuana, 20% higher than the last poll conducted in 2005.

Independent U.H. economist David Nixon was commissioned to update a 2005 study on the state of marijuana law enforcement in Hawaii. He was asked to examine the costs of current law enforcement policies, and to predict the economic impacts if Hawaii were to decriminalize or legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. Among his findings:

  • Hawaii has seen a surge in marijuana arrests since 2004. Possession arrests have increased almost 50%, and distribution arrests have almost doubled.
  • Hawaii’s marijuana laws overly impact males under the age of 25 and people of native Hawaiian descent. These groups were arrested in numbers disproportionate to their share of the population.
  • By decriminalizing marijuana, Hawaii could redirect over $9 M annually in law enforcement costs.
  • By legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, Hawaii could conservatively add an additional estimated $11 M in yearly revenues.

Pew Research poll: U.S. majority now supports legalizing marijuana

“For the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. A national survey finds that 52% say that the use of marijuana should be made legal while 45% say it should not.

Support for legalizing marijuana has risen 11 points since 2010. The change is even more dramatic since the late 1960s. A 1969 Gallup survey found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84% were opposed.”

http://www.people-press.org/2013/04/04/majority-now-supports-legalizing-marijuana/

Opinion & research on marijuana in Hawai‘i, 2013

Economist estimates state & counties stand to save/ generate an estimated $20M/year through marijuana legalization

January 2013 – With many states decriminalizing and even legalizing marijuana, where does Hawaii stand? Two new reports commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group (“DPAG”) sought to answer this question, and the latest findings were presented at a January 10, 2013 Honolulu press conference. Barbara Ankersmit, President of QMark Research shared the results of a statewide poll of Hawaii voters’ attitudes toward marijuana and marijuana laws. Pamela Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, presented highlights from a new report on the potential economic impacts of marijuana legalization authored by David Nixon, Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii College of Social Sciences Public Policy Center.

The text of both reports is published at: http://dpfhi.wordpress.com/opinion-and-research-on-marijuana-policy-in-hawaii/