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Press Release: Drug War Redux, US Attorney-General Embraces the Past as Hawai’i is Poised to Move Forward

Drug War Redux: US Attorney-General Embraces the Past as Hawai’i is Poised to Move Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 12 May 2017

CONTACT: Carl Bergquist, Executive Director, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

(808) 518-3213; carl@dpfhi.org

 

HONOLULU, HI – Today, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions made good on previous promises and issued a directive to all US Attorneys ordering them to seek more uniform, harsher sentences including for non-violent drug offenders. The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i (DPFHI) rejects this time traveling to past failures that have such a racially disparate impact.  Hawai’i like most of the country is actually moving in the opposite direction by embracing a compassionate, commonsensical and evidence-based approach to criminal justice. Further, the US Supreme Court in a string of rulings has called into question federal sentencing guidelines and other aspects related to mandatory minimums.

In its recently concluded 2017 session, the Hawai’i State Legislature overwhelmingly passed a law (HB1501) reducing the penalty for non-violent drug paraphernalia offenses from a maximum five year sentence with a hefty fine to a civil violation with a maximum fine of $500. This was done out of recognition that locking up nonviolent drug users not only overburdens our jails and prisons – the conditions of which the ACLU of Hawai’i have called unconstitutional – but that criminalizing drug use is no way to help someone in need of treatment.

As recently as last month, the US Supreme Court issued yet another ruling that highlights issues with constantly seeking harsher penalties. In a quest to seek more uniform sentences, the US had been seeing longer sentences for nonviolent drug and other offenses and an elimination of judge discretion to take individual circumstances into account. In 2005, the Court ruled that the sentencing guidelines should be advisory and not mandatory, restoring judge discretion. Then this April, the Supreme Court ruled the judges do not need to hand out multiple mandatory sentences.

In other words, this “Island in the Pacific”, many other states and the US Supreme Court are on a path at odds with AG Sessions retrogressive policy. This is why we are urging Governor David Ige to sign HB1501 into law forthwith, sending a strong signal that Hawai’i understands that public safety is enhanced by a smart approach that instead of criminalizing drug use, takes public health into account and reserves resources for the most serious offenders.

Updated Version of Medical Cannabis Guide for Patients and Health Care Professionals!

Download the PDF file .

Join us on Maui! Drug Policy Forum Comes to Wailuku 4/4 – Updates on Hawaii’s Drug Laws, Including Medical Cannabis!

 

Maui DPF

Dedicated to safe, responsible, humane and effective drug policies since 1993

MAUI EVENT!  Please Save the Date.

On Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 (from 6pm to 9pm)

Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii will present:

“Talk Story—What’s Happening with Drug Laws in Hawaii?”

Please join us for a FREE evening of Talk Story with Pamela Lichty MPH, President and Wendy Gibson R.N., Field Organizer for The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.

 

We encourage you to join in the discussions about ongoing efforts to make meaningful changes to Hawaii’s Drug Laws.

 

Learn about legislation on Marijuana Decriminalization, Legalization, Drug Paraphernalia, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) project, and other bills in motion.

 

Get updates on Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) Program and the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Systems, related legislation and ongoing educational efforts.

 

 

WHERE: Wailuku–Velma McWayne Santos– Community Center.

395 Waena Street, Wailuku 96793 (between Lower Main St. and Eha St.). Parking is FREE. Meeting Room and Restrooms are ADA Accessible.

 

This event is Open to the Public and FREE.

Donations are graciously accepted.

 

Light Refreshments will be served.

 

 

For more information, please call (808) 321-4503, e-mail  organizer@dpfhi.org,

or visit our Website at dpfhi.org.

 

You can also LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (@DPFHawaii)

Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii (@MCcoalitionHI)

 

New Poll Shows Increased, Strong Support for Cannabis Reform

Download the PDF file .

Drug Policy Forum’s Legislative Priorities for 2017

Aloha Supporters:

Please see the document below for our 2017 legislative priorities. As soon as specific legislation is introduced, we will provide you with bill numbers and action items.

May 2017 be the year that Hawai’i finally decriminalizes possession of cannabis for adult personal use as well as the possession of drug paraphernalia. Imua!

We wish you a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Download the PDF file .

Nurses Continuing Education Training – Nov. 19th – Others Welcome Too!

Patients Out of Time will be presenting “The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know“. This all day seminar is the perfect opportunity to expand the number of Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) in Hawai‘i who are willing and qualified to certify and renew medical cannabis patients.

The general public, patients, interested individuals, and doctors are also welcome to attend to expand their knowledge of the medical uses of cannabis!

Details below:

 

Download the PDF file .

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2016

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. [Registration from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. – drinks and snacks will be available]. Lunch will not be provided.

Location: Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance, Real Office Centers, 1110 Nu‘uanu Ave. #6, Honolulu, HI. PLEASE NOTE: This venue is not wheelchair-accessible.

Contact Hours: Provider approved by the CA Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #16044, for 6 contact hours

Cost: $100.00 for all attendees until November 18, $120 to register at the door on November 19. A syllabus will be provided for all attendees registering to claim CEU credits.

Description: This timely and provocative seminar will include an overview of cannabis, the various cannabinoids (endogenous, phyto-cannabinoids and pharmaceutical cannabinoid products) and the newly discovered endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) that is present in all humans. By understanding the ECS, it becomes more clear as to how and why cannabis is a safe and effective medication for a wide array of illnesses and conditions. The healthcare professional’s role in patient care and education regarding the safe use of cannabis, including ingestion methodologies and interactions with prescription opiates, will be discussed. State and federal laws regarding cannabis as medicine will also be presented.

The event will feature:

g43802Presenter: Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSN, CARN, is a medical cannabis consultant and addictions nurse consultant, co-founder of Patients Out of Time, and Past President of the American Cannabis Nurses Association.

 

 

g4380Presenter: Wendy Gibson, RN, BSN, a cannabis nurse and ACNA member who is involved in helping shape medical cannabis laws and educating health care professionals in Hawai‘i. She happily serves as the Field Organizer for The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawai‘i and The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.

g4420Presenter: Stephen P. Pingree, Tax Defense Attorney and Alliance member. Stephen has legal and business experience with the Medical Marijuana (MMJ) law and regulations in the State of Nevada; as well as Federal and other states’ MJ laws and regulations. He is well versed in the Hawai‘i MMJ law (HRS 329D) and DOH MMJ Rules and Regulations.

 

 

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.

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!

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.

West sunset orange

Resource: What Works Best in the War on Drugs

Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, has written a superb examination of what policies work and do not in combating the harm done by drugs worldwide. w78qxxfb-1410262357

If you haven’t yet, give it a read!

The truth is that progressive, harm reduction policies just work better. Countries such as The Netherlands that have been pursuing these policies have had better outcomes than countries that have focused on punitive, law enforcement centered approaches. Progressive drug laws help society by lowering the costs and harms associated with drugs.