Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dispensary Task Force Public Hearings Announced!

The Drug Policy Forum is represented on the Dispensary Task Force that is working to make recommendations about a regulated system of dispensaries for the medical marijuana program.

The task force wants to hear from patients and stakeholders about what they need the dispensary system to be. This is a really good way for us to get involved in the process.
If you want to give your comments at the hearing, the Public Policy Center asks that you submit written testimony at least 24 hours prior to the event. They ask that you include:

  1. Testifier’s name with position/title and organization; (patients and caregivers should simply say “patient” or “caregiver”)
  2. The Dispensary Task Force to which the comments are directed; and
  3. The date and time of the hearing.

You can submit it either on paper or by email:

  1. Paper: 2 copies (including an original) to Room 331 in the State Capitol;
  2. Email: For testimony less than 10MB in size, e-mail testimony to
    Electronic testimony will be accepted until the start of the hearing.

Click here to visit the Public Policy Center website.

Big Island (Hilo)

5:00pm – Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014
Aupuni Center
101 Pauahi Street, Suite 1 (map)
Hilo, HI 96720

Click Here to Email Written Testimony

Oahu (Honolulu)

5:00pm – Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014
Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium
415 South Beretania Street (map)
Honolulu, HI 96813

Click Here to Email Written Testimony

Let’s all please try and keep comments as concise, polite, and specific as possible. The task force is not asking if we need dispensaries, but instead, how the system of dispensaries should be run.

Registration is Now Open for Harm Reduction 2014

Harm Reduction 2014: The Tipping Point  November 7, 2014

Registration for this excellent conference put together by our friends at CHOW project is now open!

Click here to register or learn more.

8:00 – 4:30 Friday, November 7th 2014

Honolulu Community College

Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction is a philosophy and set of strategies for working with people engaged in potentially harmful behaviors. The main objective is to reduce the potential dangers and health risks associated with such behaviors, even for those who are not willing or able to completely stop.  Harm reduction uses a non-judgmental, holistic and individualized approach to support incremental change & increase the health and well-being of individuals and communities.

The Tipping Point

The tipping point is the time when many small changes become significant enough to create larger, more important changes. Many in Hawaii and across the country feel we are at the tipping point in our response to drug use, drug users and recovery. A collaboration of service providers, community organizations, and concerned citizens will convene for a one-day interactive conference to discuss ways of developing more holistic and culturally appropriate evidence-based interventions in the context of harm reduction practice.

Conference Topics Include:

  • Housing first, homelessness & drug use
  • Harm reduction and recovery
  • Trauma informed care
  • Youth and drug use
  • Marijuana and medicinal cannabis
  • Drugs and sex work
  • Prescription drugs and overdose
  • Self-care for harm reduction workers
  • Kupuna and drug use
  • Overview of harm reduction

Conference Partners Include:

AIDS Education Project * AIDS Community Care Team * Community Alliance on Prisons * Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i * Gay Straight Alliance Hawai’i * Gregory House Programs * Hale Kipa *Harm Reduction Hawai’i * Hawai’i Appleseed * Hawai’i Department of Health’s Injury Prevention and Control Section * Hawai’i Department of Health’s STD/AIDS Prevention Branch * Hawai’i Island HIV/AIDS Foundation * Hawai’i Pacific University’s School of Social Work * Hawai’i Public Health Association * Hawai’i Youth Coalition * Hawai’i Youth Services Network * Hep Free Hawai’i * Hepatitis Support Network of Hawai’i * Hina Mauka * Kawai Foundation * Life Foundation* Mālama Pono * Maui AIDS Foundation * Mental Health America of Hawai’i * Planned Parenthood of Hawai’i * University of Hawai’i at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry * University of Hawai’i at Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene *Waikiki Health Care-A-Van Program




Police Organization Reports on Heroin Epidemic and Marijuana Legalization

This document from the Police Executive Research Forum is very informative. It is far from a wholesale acceptance of the fact that outright criminalization has failed but it does show some of the concerns that law enforcement has about these issues. It is certainly interesting to read the law enforcement take on the enormous and horrifying heroin epidemic that seems to be taking the United States by storm, and the remarkable shift in attitudes toward marijuana that has taken place here. As we move forward with a more rational and compassionate set of drug laws, we must remember to include law enforcement in the process. This is a good look at what they fear, and what they think about the current laws and state of affairs.

Download the PDF file .


The New York Times’ Groundbreaking Series of Editorials about Marijuana

nyt_logo2If you have not yet heard about or seen the New York Times series of editorials about marijuana, it is time to do so.

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii supports progressive marijuana law reform, primarily through our coalition Fresh Approach Hawaii and the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii.

Visit them to learn more about legalization efforts and the expansion of the medical marijuana program here in Hawaii.

The first of the series of these editorials by the New York Times editorial board is entitled: States’ Rights, and focuses on how the federal head-in-the-sand mentality toward marijuana is serving only to make the national law seem outdated and misguided, while states pursue liberalization of marijuana laws in the shadow of a potential federal crackdown.

The New York Times is the paper of record, and so even if they are saying the same things that we have been yelling for decades, it shows that we aren’t the lunatic fringe anymore. Instead, the prohibitionists are now the ones out of step with America.

John Oliver Talks about Prisons and Drug Laws

In a recent episode of John Oliver’s HBO comedy news program, Last Week Tonight, John dealt with one of the biggest problems we have in this country: prisons. Our prisons are full. More so than anywhere else in the world. The main reason for this is that we have drug laws that are a little draconian, and a lot racist.

Talking About Legalization With Hawaii Business Magazine

weed3Check out this excellent piece in Hawaii Business Magazine quoted the Director, President, and Organizer for the Drug Policy Action Group about what the hopes are for legalization in Hawaii and what that might look like.

The story is by Tiffany Hill, and is well worth a read.

UK Internet Service Providers are Blocking Opponents of the War on Drugs

Read the full story at the Huffington post.

UK visitors to sites critical of the war on drugs now see this page instead.

UK visitors to sites critical of the war on drugs now see this page instead.

This should be a warning for us in the United States as we consider whether or not to dismantle internet neutrality. The UK has just implemented a new system whereby ISP’s (the companies that provide your internet access, in Hawaii this is largely Time Warner Oceanic) are tasked with filtering out “adult content” and displaying a warning page that can only be overridden by contacting your cable company and asking them to unlock adult content.

The hope with the law is that it will shame UK internet users into using an internet that has been censored by the government and cable companies. Ostensibly to prevent children from stumbling accross pornography, opponents of the law said, rightly, that it would lead to wider and more problematic censorship.

It is far from proof of a conspiracy, but it turns out that the websites of sites critical of the war on drugs, such as the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy are being blocked.  Unsurprisingly, sites in favor of the war on drugs are not being blocked.

Part of creating meaningful informed progress is having an educated population that has access to all of the information, not just one side of the debate. I hope that this will give us additional pause as we decide whether or not to continue dismantling our own internet neutrality.

Harm Reduction Conference on Nov. 7th

Our friends at the CHOW project have announced that the 2014 Harm Reduction conference will take place on November 7th at Honolulu Community College.

Here is the flier:

Download the PDF file .

For more information, take a look at the CHOW project website, send an email to or call Jean at 853-3243.

New DPA Report On the DEA’s Effort to Impede the Science on Marijuana

logo_headerThis new report from one of our allies is certainly making some waves. Click here to read the full report for free on their website.

We at the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii are concerned with supporting an evidence based, compassionate approach to drug laws. It is thus disheartening to see, laid out in plain English, the history of the DEA’s outright refusal to allow scientific research of marijuana.

This image comes from an Australian Menzie's House article concerning a similar problem there.

This image comes from an Australian Menzie’s House article concerning a similar problem there.

While this is not new information, we have long understood exactly how the difficult it has been to receive authorization to study anything but the explicitly detrimental effects of marijuana, the report highlights the fact that the problem is systematic, codified, and intentional. Furthermore, this report highlights a central flaw at the heart of the logic of a law enforcement approach to drug policy.

Image courtesy of DucDigital (

Image courtesy of DucDigital

While a public health based approach is compatible with scientific research and can encourage a variety of policy responses, a law enforcement approach to drug policy does not.

Law enforcement may be a key component to a robust policy in dealing with drugs. Law enforcement will have a role in the enforcement of the framework of laws dealing with marijuana, but law enforcement cannot be allowed to drive policy decisions. As a society, we must always let outcomes drive policy decisions, and not methods. Both the intuitive logic of law enforcement, and this concrete report on

This image courtesy of the US Embasy Kabul on Flickr. Click here for license.

This image of DEA head Michelle Leonhart courtesy of the US Embasy Kabul on Flickr. Click here for license.

our recent past show that the DEA works by artificially inflating the dangers of drug use. We cannot turn to an organization with only one approach to analyzing consequences when we want policy recommendations. To build a house, you need a blueprint and a hammer. For far too long we have been letting the hammer build the house.

2014 Polling Update on Marijuana

piechartWe 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