Category Archives: events

Hearings start January 28th—for Administrative Rules Changes to Medical Marijuana Program

Since Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program has been transferred from the Department of Safety to the care of the Department of Health (DOH), the Administrative Rules MUST be changed.

THE DOH posted a Notice of Public Hearing for DOH Administrative Rules on December 20, 2014. Links to the entire DOH notice are below.

Some highlights of the notice:

The public hearings are scheduled to start January 28, 2015 on the Big Island (Hilo) and will continue on Oahu February 2nd, on Maui February 3rd and on Kauai February 5th.

 

The TOPICS WILL include administrative rules and the procedures for :

** Application processing, registrations, monitoring, and disciplinary actions.

** Maintaining confidentiality for patients and caregivers.

** Petitioning to add a disease or health condition to the list of qualifying  conditions.

**  Physician requirements for issuing written certifications and maintaining medical records.

Please NOTE: Topics will NOT include the medical marijuana dispensary system or the task force recommendations.

The DISPENSARY IS A SEPARATE ISSUE and and the way to give your input for that is through the legislative process –which starts ON January 21, 2015.

 

Also note that these RULES are required to implement the EXISTING LAWS and CANNOT CHANGE any element of it (for instance they cannot increase plant limits).

 

The public does have an opportunity to weigh in (details are BELOW) and all of your comments, positive or negative are equally important and encouraged.

 

Once all of the administrative rules are approved, the proposed changes can be officially implemented. These include initiating a process for DOH to add NEW CONDITIONS and improving the program by implementing a fully-electronic system.Clock

Please realize that ADMINISTRATIVE RULE making is cumbersome, time-consuming and requires going through many bureaucratic hoops. It can take many months to finalize the rules, especially if substantive changes are made.

 

 

Excerpt from the Public Hearing Notice:

Pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 91, notice is hereby given that the Department of Health (DOH) will hold a public hearing for the proposed adoption of Chapter 11-160, Hawaii Administrative Rules, Medical Use of Marijuana.

This proposed new chapter would establish the medical marijuana program at DOH, including A NEW process for DOH to approve debilitating medical conditions, physician requirements to participate in the medical marijuana program, registration of qualifying patients and primary caregivers, monitoring and corrective action, administrative procedure, and confidentiality of information.

 

HEARING DATES and LOCATIONS:

Big Island–Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Time:10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Place: State Office Building, Conference rooms A, B and C 75 Aupuni St. Hilo, Hawaii, HI 96720

Oahu--Date: Monday, February 2, 2015 Time:10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Place: Diamond Head Health Center 3627 Kilauea Ave.,Room 418 Honolulu, HI 96816

 

Maui— Date:Tuesday, February 3, 2015 Time: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Place: State Office Building 54 South High Street, Third Floor Conference Room, Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793

Kauai — Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015 Time: 10:30 to noon

Place: State Office Building 3060 Eiwa St., Basement Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766

 

All WRITTEN testimony must be received no later than February 6, 2015, at 4:30 p.m.

PUBLIC TESTIMONY– All interested persons shall be afforded the opportunity to submit testimony, orally and/or in writing, on the proposed administrative rules at the time of the public hearing. Persons who are not able to attend the public hearing may submit written testimony to DOH: by mail at: 4348 Waialae Avenue, #648, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816; or by email at medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov

 

Any person requiring a special accommodation (e.g., assistance of a sign language interpreter) at the public hearing shall file a request with DOH by email at medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov  or by calling (808) 733-9010 or via relay, at least ten business days before the public hearing.

 

To see more information on the hearing, please click Public Hearing Notice.

To read the proposed rules, please click Proposed Administrative Rules.

 

 

The Votes are In. Many Sensible Marijuana Policy Reforms Pass

I votedSensible Marijuana Policy Reforms Prevail – From Alaska to Washington D.C.. . and Guam?

On November 4th, 2014, Voters across many states took a strong stance AGAINST marijuana prohibition and FOR sensible drug laws.  The people have spoken. File:Thomas H Ince - Megaphone 1922.jpg

Here’s what they decided:

Marijuana will be LEGAL for recreational use in the states of Alaska and Oregon and in Washington D.C.

Now marijuana will be regulated like alcohol.

Alaska’s, Question 2 passed with a 53% YES vote.  In Oregon, measure 91 passed with a 54% YES vote.

Washington D.C. (Initiative 71) passed with a 69% vote. While this is a huge victory, it is only a first step. The law only allows (right now) for people to grow their own, there is no structure to tax and regulate adult use marijuana, and as we saw in their recent decriminalization law, it will be exposed to possible congressional interference.

P medical-marijuanaFortunately, in GUAM – voters said YES to Medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, despite 57% of votes being in favor of medical marijuana, the measure failed in Florida. (a 60% vote was required.)

 

Jail w flag outsideFortunately, there was good news about decriminalization efforts in other states:

Californians passed Prop 47—which will reduce penalties for some crimes and reclassify MOST non-serious, non-violent crimes. Penalties will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. They also voted NO to drug testing of certain doctors.

In Michigan voters in THREE counties passed decriminalization ordinances, TWO counties in New Mexico did too.

In New Jersey the public was questioned about bail reform and they agreed that the number of pretrial incarceration (for low-level drug violations) should be reduced.

Portland, Maine voters passed to remove ALL legal penalties for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by an adult.Jail door opened

We should applaud the people who worked to make these efforts into a reality.

And, we should keep in mind the words of Margaret Mead:Margaret Mead

 

 

Vote

Voters in 7 States will vote on Marijuana Policy Reform

This is a HUGE Election Year for Marijuana Policy Reform!

The people in 7 States, 1 District and 1 Territory will vote on   Legalization and Decriminalization.

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Image courtesy of the joint blog.

Public policy changes may also be made in 57 Municipal and County votes.

It’s EASY to Get informed and Stay informed–Here’s how:

Read this excellent article in the Huffington Post (by Stephen Gutwillig) about what is happening in: Alaska, Oregon, Florida, California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Washington D.C., and Guam.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE

From Russ Belville FB page
From Russ Belville FB page

Activist Russ Belville has ongoing RADIO coverage of ALL of these States (and Territory) plus 57 municipal and county votes—so you can stay informed.

Listen in at  420 Radio

Medical Cannabis may get out of CSA Schedule I prison (because it got a bad rap)

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What started as federal criminal trials against seven men growing marijuana on national forest land in California has turned into a monumental, HISTORIC evidentiary hearing. The hearing lasted four days and started on Friday, October 24, 2014. It was complete with three expert medical witnesses and a NORML attorney whose testimonies were described as “lively”, “fiery” and at times “humorous”.

The judge will determine if the current Controlled Substance Act classification of marijuana (as a Schedule I drug) is appropriate and constitutional.

The defense attorneys contend that it is NOT constitutional because the scheduling is not appropriate.

The Judge’s decision could mean the END of marijuana prohibition–at least in California.

U.S. District Court Judge, Kimberly J. Mueller said she felt compelled to examine up-to-date evidence that marijuana has medical usefulness because of a Supreme Court decision which changed another law. The decision to delete a FOOTNOTE in another case (Footnote #37 from the Gonzales v. Raich case) led to this twist in the trial.  Read more about the Footnote here]

The testimony Judge Mueller heard this week will allow her to determine if marijuana meets the criteria of a Schedule I drug, a category that includes heroin and LSD.

As you may know, Schedule I drugs are defined as those that:

  • have a high potential for abuse
  • lack any accepted medical use in treatment (in the United States)
  • cannot be used safely, even under medical supervision.

The three eminent medical experts who testified are Carl Hart PhD, Gregory Carter, MD and Philip Denny, MD. The doctors argued that cannabis is one of mankind’s oldest, safest therapeutic substances and does not fit ANY of the Schedule I criteria. All three addressed marijuana’s current and potential medical usefulness, the “better than most drugs on the market” safety profile and what the “potential for abuse” means if you’re using marijuana as medicine.

If Judge Mueller determines that cannabis is inappropriately classified, and determines it to be “unconstitutional”, her decision could lead to the rescheduling or DESCHEDULING of marijuana.

This will be a landmark decision with statewide, national and international impacts. Many appeals are likely to follow and the case could head back to the Supreme Court. Judge Mueller is supposed to make her decision by November 19, 2014.

 

TESTIMONY GIVEN BY THE DOCTORS

Carl Hart 1

Dr. Carl Hart is a drug addiction expert. He is a psychoneuropharmacologist who has conducted addiction research on human subjects. He educates physicians at Columbia medical school. He sits on an advisory board of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and advocates for drug policy reform. His performance was described as a “masterful testimony”

Dr. Hart dissected the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (which defines addiction) and stated:

“After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”  (from Norml.org/news)

Dr Gregory Carter

Dr. Gregory Carter also specializes in educating physicians about cannabis. He is the medical director at St. Luke Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington. He holds many board certifications and fellowships including the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. He cited and discussed a meta-analysis of 18 placebo-controlled studies, the majority of them showing cannabis was effective at treating neuropathic pain and had minimal side effects.

It was noted that the United States government (DHHS) holds a patent on marijuana as a neuroprotective agent and that 23 states and Washington D.C. have medical marijuana laws.

Dr. Phillip Denny is a retired physician with vast experience treating medical cannabis patients.

Dr. Denny spoke about the U.S. government’s Investigative New Drug program (IND), the program that has supplied US patients with tins of government-grown cannabis since the 1970’s. He presented the results of a 2002 study showing the long-term successes in treating the severely ill IND patients. He fielded questions about a study showing the cannabis-based prescription medication, Marinol had the same effectiveness as smoked cannabis—helping substantiate the medical value of both.

Day 4 was also lively. Bertha Madras PhD, the only government expert witness asserted that cannabis cannot properly be called “medicine” because it does not meet the strict standards set by the Food and Drug Administration. NORML attorney Zenia Gilg countered by providing the results of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies which showed significant and beneficial medicinal effects.

Gilg also dimished Madras’s credibility as an expert witness, citing her lack of training and experience with working with medical marijuana. This stood in stark contrast to the vast education and experience of Dr. Hart, Dr. Carter and Dr. Denny.

To read more about day 4 click here:

nadelmann

Celebrating 20 years of reason, science and compassion

Congratulations to Fresh Approach Hawaii cofounder, the Drug Policy forum of Hawaii!

“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.
http://www.dpfhi.org

DPAGlogo

Field Organizer sought for local drug policy reform NPO

DPAGlogo

JOB OPENING: The Drug Policy Action Group is seeking a Field Organizer.

Fresh Approach Hawaii founder The Drug Policy Action Group (www.dpfhi.org) is hiring!

The Field Organizer will work with DPAGʻs Executive Director and/or Board President, and will be responsible for DPAG’s public education campaign for statewide reform of marijuana laws including lobbying, growth and day to day operations of two coalitions formed during the 2013 Legislative Session: The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii (MCCHI.org) and Fresh Approach Hawaii (Freshapproachhawaii.org). For the full job description, see: DPAG_organizer.

Please send a letter of interest, resume, a recent writing sample and three references (all in PDF format) to info@dpfhi.org by September 20, 2013.

DPAG is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

State_of_Hawaii_seal

Bills to improve patient privacy and safe access to medical marijuana become law

Advocates call measures a “significant first step” to modernize Hawaii’s thirteen year-old medical marijuana law

(Honolulu, 6/25/2013) Patient advocates celebrated the signing of two bills to improve Hawaii’s 13 year-old medical marijuana program – the first updates to pass the legislature since the program began. Approved today were measures to move program oversight away from the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) and to the Department of Health (“DOH”), and to adjust the type and amount of medical marijuana a patient can legally possess.

HB 668 CD1 moves oversight of the program to the DOH, a move welcomed by advocates as both symbolic and substantive. HB 668 will go into effect January 1, 2015, giving time for the transition between departments to occur.

SB 642 CD1 increases the amount of medical marijuana a patient or caregiver can grow and possess. Lawmakers also added a provision requiring that only a patient’s primary care physician can certify them for eligibility, but later clarified that people covered in the Federal system (e.g. military dependents at Tripler) and those seeing specialist physicians will still have access to Hawaii’s medical marijuana program. This measure will also take effect in 2015 – one day later than HB 688.

Representative Della Au Belatti, who advocated strongly for the bills, said: “Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states.  By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the State can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”

The policy shift is part of a serious discussion on the future of marijuana law in the Islands, mirroring reforms happening around the country. Bills to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol and to remove criminal penalties for adult use garnered unprecedented public support and legislative interest and received hearings, but were ultimately shelved until 2014 with no final votes taken.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program enjoys very strong public support. Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between November 19 and December 4, 2012. Among its findings:

  • 81% of Hawaii voters support access to medical marijuana by sick and dying people under a doctor’s care.
  • 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.

Pam Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, said: “While Hawaii still has important work ahead in updating our medical marijuana program, these bills are a significant first step. The emergence of legislative champions for medical marijuana like Senators Will Espero and Josh Green and Representative Della Au Belatti shows that lawmakers recognize the broad public support among voters. We look forward to working with the 2014 legislature to establish state-regulated dispensaries, and to make additional patient-centered improvements to the Hawaii program.”

Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, added: “In 2000, Hawaii led the nation as the first state to legislatively establish our medical marijuana program. Now, a total of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have programs. Finally, 13 years down the road, Hawaii is moving toward patient-focused policies and away from a law enforcement approach. These bills do not address every concern, but are the first real steps toward a more sensible public policy — we are encouraged and will redouble our efforts next legislative session.”

Patients, doctors and caregivers 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 www.mcchi.org

starssmaller

VICTORY! Two bills pass to improve HI medical marijuana program, await Governor’s signature

The Conference Committee on HB 668 and SB 642 went all the way to the last minute, and it was a nail-biter – but after all that work – two important bills to update Hawaii’s medical marijuana program passed out of Conference Committee and passed their respective floor votes! They now await the signature of governor Abercrombie. This the first time in 13 years since the program was passed that any changes have been made and it is because of your tireless work that Hawaii’s program is moving in the right direction. We still have a lot of work to do in 2014 and on to make more improvements to the program for patients, caregivers, and physicians and follow in the steps of more up to date programs in other states.

HB 668, CD 1 

A bill to transfer the Medical Cannabis Program to the Department of Health, passed as a straight transfer bill, eliminating the proposed “Transition Advisory Group” (we supported the elimination) and cleaning up the language around the responsibilities and timeline for the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) and Department of Health in the transfer.  It also creates a “Medical Marijuana Registry Fund”. For the past 13 years, the monies collected from registering with the program were co-mingled with general funds by the Department of Public Safety.  Now all money collected will go into an appropriate fund that is only used for administering the program.

The transfer/bill MUST take effect by January 1, 2015 but the two departments are already working on the transition. This is a HUGE win for the medical cannabis community!

 

SB 642, CD 1

SB 642, the bill to improve aspects of the program, also passed. It is a positive step, but did not include all the changes we asked for – and the committee chair inserted in some provisions we don’t support. Unfortunately, Senator Green as the chair of the Senate Conference Committee would not pass HB 668 or the positive aspects of SB 642 unless the two bills were linked together and his amendments to the latter were included. The discussion at the Conference committee was very heated.

Improvements in the Conference Committee final draft that we DO support are:

  • All existing registrations/licenses are “grandfathered” in, meaning no one will have to re-register until their current card expires;
  • Increases the amount of usable medicine from the current allotment of 3 ounces  to 4 ounces.  We had previously asked for 5 ounces but the committee was only willing to allow 4 at this time.
  • Removes the “immature” and “mature” definitions from the law so patients/caregivers are allowed 7 plants, regardless of state of growth;

Changes which we DO NOT support and will be working to change are:

  • Allows only primary care physicians to recommend cannabis and certify qualifying patients and caregivers.  This was added in by Senator Green presumably to “crack down” on visiting physicians from the Mainland recommending cannabis to patients in Hawai‘i but unfortunately this will have broader negative consequences to patients and physicians.
  • All language protecting patients’ confidentiality has been removed. This means that the location of the residence where cannabis is grown for medical use will remain on the registry cards. This is something that Senator Green insisted on;
  • Raises the registration fee for the Medical Cannabis Program to $35. While the fee has remained at $25 for 13 years, the previous legislature had amended the program to up the registration fee to $35 but never officially wrote it into the law.

This bill will not take effect until January 2, 2015. This gives us an opportunity to address these negative changes in the 2014 legislature and remove them from the law.