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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.

Pamela Lichty and the ACLU Strike a Blow for Freedom of Speech!

Our president, Pamela Lichty has reached a settlement with the Department of Accounting and General Services. As part of the settlement agreement, the State is agreeing to wholesale revisions to its rules regarding demonstrations on State property. Effective immediately:

• Individuals or groups (of any size) wishing to demonstrate at the State Capitol (or other property controlled by the Department of Accounting and General Services (“DAGS”)) no longer need a permit.
• Demonstrators can have a small table to distribute literature, no permit needed.
• Demonstrators can get a permit, if desired, to reserve a space, but will no longer have to indemnify the state and will not have to obtain insurance if they cannot afford it.

This should make it easier and cheaper for people and organizations to demonstrate at the state capitol, and we are very proud to have been a part of it!

Here is the press release:

Download the PDF file .

 

Global Commission on Drugs Report is Out

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has just released its 2014 report entitled Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work.

The report is grounded in science, and is the product of a working group that includes such august names as Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General), Ernesto Zedillo (former President of Mexico) and César Gaviria spectrum_en(Former President of Colombia, and former Secretary General of the Organization of American States).

It is also incredibly readable, and visually interesting. If you are interested at all in drug policy, it is certainly worth taking a look at.

The report looks at how governments must take control of black markets through harm-reduction and regulation of all drugs, thereby disempowering organized crime that has been enriched by the current law-enforcement centered strategy, and ensuring that enforcement does not impede the vastly more important dictates of public health. This report should be required reading by everyone working in drug policy.

Legislative Reference Bureau Releases Updated Report on Medical Marijuana in Hawaii

As part of the HCR 48 Task Force on a dispensary system, the Legislative Reference Bureau has been asked to update their report on the lessons that Hawaii can take from other state medical marijuana programs. If you are interested in reading the report, it is available here:

Download the PDF file .

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 HCR48testimony@gmail.com.
    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 .