Category Archives: harm reduction

2014 : A Great Year for Marijuana Policy Changes — We CAN Celebrate in 2015!

2015 is a time to Celebrate some of the Successes from 2014. Across the Nation– 2014 was a great year for positive changes in drug policy reform—primarily for marijuana laws.Leaf gavel

Here are some of the Highlights:

Some of the 23 states which have Medical Marijuana Programs enhanced their programs.

In Hawaii, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force was formed. hus-conf-4-16-14

After six months of examining laws from other states and hearing testimony (from experts and the public) they produced a list of recommendations which will be used to draft legislation for the 2015 session.

States that had NO program– approved medical marijuana: New York, Minnesota, Maryland.Cannabisoil1

Eleven states will now allow qualified patients to use cannabis products that are high in cannabidiol (CBD). The patients are primarily children with severe, intractable epilepsy. The states are: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

For the first time, Congress cut federal funding for the enforcement of laws which would “Interfere” with the implementation of state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs. Taxpayer money will no longer be spent on prosecuting those who possess, distribute or cultivate medical marijuana (in compliance with state laws).

MANY STATES HAVE NOW DECRIMINALIZED OR LEGALIZED MARIJUANA POSSESSION

According to an article in the Huffington Post, many States chose to DECRIMINALIZE possession of small amounts of marijuana. They include: the District of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Maryland and regions of Maine, Michigan, and New Mexico.Jail door opened

Alaska and Oregon voters joined Colorado and Washington state in LEGALIZING marijuana. In Oregon, anti-legalization efforts were squashed when it was discovered that federal funds were being used in the politicking.

California had many HARM REDUCTION policy successes with marijuana, naloxone and decriminalization efforts.

And, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memo which says that it will not interfere with marijuana cultivation or sales if it occurs on tribal lands, in any state.

It seems the tides have been turning in favor of responsible marijuana use. This may be due to a growing awareness of the medical usefulness of marijuana and that millions of patients are using it safely. Maybe this is the result of a growing awareness of the devastating effects of the failure of the war on drugs. warondrugs

Maybe people have seen that many good things have come from the legalization in Colorado and Washington, such as opioid overdose mortality rates drop by 24.8 percent (NORML) and a drop in violent crimes.

Perhaps they saw that their favorite NFL teams –with players who use marijuana—make it to the top four playoff spots. Two of the best players, Seattle’s Marshawn lynch (sitting at #4) and Steelers Le’Veon Bell (at #2 spot) have admitted to using marijuana.

Thanks to the many people, including the Marijuana Mavericks, 2014 was a good year for positive change. Let’s hope this trend continues well into 2015.

 

 

 

 

What lessons can we learn from Colorado’s Legalization of Marijuana?

 

chalkboardThe full effects of marijuana legalization may take many years to discover but more than ONE year later, Colorado seems to be doing pretty well. Alarmists rang out warning of increased crime, accidents and other types of destruction. These warnings were clearly exaggerated.

Lesson #1: Crime Did NOT Increase

According to Colorado police reports, in Denver, the city with the most marijuana dispensaries, serious crimes fell.

It Brought Less Violence One study of couples found that: More frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives (two-to-three times per month or more often) predicted less frequent intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration by husbands.

Lesson #2: People can learn to use Marijuana Responsibly

and

Lesson #3: We must Keep medications AWAY from Children.

The majority of people who use marijuana have learned to use it responsibly. There were a few cases of people who overindulged in edible products and had bad experiences. There were also a few cases of children who gained access to edibles and became very ill. Because of that, Colorado regulators set up a panel to create stricter regulations for marijuana edibles. There are ads (billboards) up to help teach people how to “start low and go slow”.  It reinforced our knowledge that we must Keep medications away from Children and highlighted the need for ongoing education.

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Lesson #4: Some of the money from marijuana sales can be used for RESEARCH.

In spite of reported shortages of product and banking issues, Colorado made a fair amount of money. The Board of Health awarded more than Eight MILLION Dollars towards medical marijuana research to:

* Determine pain relieving properties for children with brain tumors.

* Compare pain relieving properties with oxycodone.

* Determine the impact on pediatric epileptic seizure disorders.

* Study the medical usefulness in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and irritable bowel syndrome

This is a special lesson because this will be the FIRST time that government money can be used to research the MEDICAL POTENTIAL of marijuana rather than the harmfulness.

 

Even with the best of planning—there is always room for improvement.

After one year of legalization, Colorado seems to have done a good job of ensuring safety for the general public and marijuana users. We can and will continue to learn a lot from them.

 

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

 

 

Arrest records in New York City show racial bias persists

Racism persists in New York City. You can tell by looking at marijuana arrest records. This is not new, but arrest rates of young black and Latino males (for small amounts of marijuana) are higher than in any other city in the world.

Missouri Sentencing Reform Measure Reduces Marijuana Possession Penalties
Image courtesy of the daily chronic

What’s going on?

An article entitled “No Progress on Marijuana Arrests” appeared last week in the New York Times.

It explains that low-level marijuana arrest records for public possession started going down in the 1970s and then climbed back up, up, UP again. There were fewer than 1,000 arrests for possession of trivial amounts of marijuana in 1990, yet this number grew to 50,000 in 2011.

It did drop to 28,600 arrests in 2013, but that number of arrests for trivial amounts of marijuana still remains greater than ANY city in the world.

Why? What happened?

In the 1970’s police were better at following the law which dictated that arrests were not supposed to be made unless marijuana was being smoked or displayed in public. So, by the year 2011 police found a way around that and were (illegally) tricking people (primarily young black and Latino men) into emptying their pockets –and then charging them with “public possession”.

Over 86% of the people arrested were black and Latino men and 75% of them had no prior criminal convictions.

The article offers up an explanation based on a Marijuana Arrest Research Project and Drug Policy Alliance report. The reason given: “police officers patrolling white neighborhoods typically do not search the vehicles and pockets of white citizens”.

Institutionalized racism persists despite our efforts. Perhaps this article will help people who think racism is a thing of the past to understand how this situation can persist.

You can read the entire article HERE

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New resource: Changes and Clarifications to Hawaiiʻs Medical Cannabis Program

Our sister organization, the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, has just published an FAQ on 2013ʻs legislative modifications to the Hawaii medical marijuana program. The FAQ also includes analysis of the Hawaii Supreme Courtʻs ruling in the “Woodhall” case – involving patient travel with medicinal cannabis within the state of Hawaii.

Read more here: http://mcchi.org/resource-changes-clarifications-to-hawaiis-medical-marijuana-program/ 

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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

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Civil Beatʻs Chad Blair: It’s High Time to Legalize Pot

http://www.civilbeat.com/posts/2013/09/30/20015-chad-blair-its-high-time-to-legalize-pot/

“Tobacco and booze are legal, of course. Imagine the money that might flow to the islands if we legalize buds. Gov. Neil Abercrombie‘s New Day Plan for Hawaii calls for an “agricultural renaissance”; maybe it’s time to move beyond Rainbow papayas and molasses.”

 

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Field Organizer sought for local drug policy reform NPO

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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.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta apologizes, reverses opinion on medical marijuana

Screen shot 2013-08-08 at 1.04.56 PM“We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that. I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/index.html?hpt=hp_t2