Category Archives: overrepresentation


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:

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 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.


Field Organizer sought for local drug policy reform NPO


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

Fresh Approach Hawaii founder The Drug Policy Action Group ( 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 ( and Fresh Approach Hawaii ( 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 by September 20, 2013.

DPAG is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.


Vermont removes criminal penalties for marijuana

“VT Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a measure into law Thursday.

The law replaces criminal penalties with civil fines similar to a traffic ticket for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish.

The law also treats possession of such amounts of marijuana by people under age 21 the same as underage possession of alcohol, including referral to court diversion for a first offense, potential civil penalties and/or license suspension, and criminal penalties for a third violation.”


U.S. House Members File Bipartisan “Respect States’ Marijuana Laws Act”

“This bill is a win for federalism and a win for public safety,” said Neill Franklin, a former Maryland narcotics detective and now executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “In a time of bitter partisanship, it is quite telling that both Republicans and Democrats are calling for respect for the reform of marijuana laws. Polls show this is a winning issue for politicians, and change is inevitable. We applaud those legislators who, rather than trying to impede this progress, stand with the vast majority of Americans who believe these laws should be respected.”


New report documents nationwide racial, economic disparities in incarceration

“The reasoning is clear: the combination of excessive incarceration and harsh punishment is a blunt instrument for social control that perpetuates the country’s painful, historical legacy of injustice and inequality, and deprives masses of black and brown
people unfairly of freedom and opportunity. It is the site of today’s civil rights struggle.”


“The House I Live In” premieres on PBS

Monday, April 8, 10:00 p.m. HST on PBS Hawaii, Independent Lens:

“The House I Live In”

The war on drugs is the longest conflict in U.S. history — and the least winnable. It has had a particularly destructive, devastating impact on black America. And still, drugs are cheaper, stronger, and more plentiful than ever. This Oscar-nominated documentary takes a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of America’s longest war: the War on Drugs.

See an interview with filmmaker Eugene Jarecki:


Decriminalization off the table for 2013

Breaking: S.B. 472 (decriminalization bill) is reported to have been “recommitted” by the House of Reps to the House Judiciary Committee, effectively shelving it for 2013. S.B. 472 and H.B. 699 (to legalize marijuana for adult use in Hawaii) are both still alive for 2014. More to follow!

A big mahalo to all who took the time to contact their Representatives about this bill!


Aloha State poised for meaningful marijuana law reform in 2013 legislature

Bills give lawmakers new opportunity to take modest, sensible steps while addressing urgent issues of government fairness & efficiency

Honolulu, Hawaii –  The marijuana law reform movement is about fair, effective use of government power and taxpayer money, and it’s based on two over-arching principles:

  1. There is no federal law preventing any state from legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. Every state has a right to determine how best to invest law enforcement resources.
  2. When laws outlive their usefulness or even do more harm than good, it’s only sensible to change them.

Around the nation, state after state is considering sensible reforms to marijuana policies, including here at home: Hawaii’s legislature saw 24 bills introduced at the start of the 2013 session relating to marijuana law reform – as far as we know that’s a new record – including several bills to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, similar to reforms passed in 2012 by voters in Washington and Colorado.

At this writing, supporters of reform are urged to ASAP contact their legislators about:

S.B. 472 – to decriminalize (with proper checks and balances) small amounts of marijuana for adult possession. There are also bills moving to improve Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, look for an update on these in the next few days.

Make a Difference Now. The current system is broken. By decriminalizing, or removing criminal penalties, of small amounts of marijuana for adult use — we can begin to reduce the harm on individual lives and make better use of the criminal justice system for more serious crimes.

In Hawaii as in the nation, our marijuana laws persistently and disproportionally affect communities of color, despite similar usage rates for marijuana across all ethnic groups. In addition to the potential life-long stigma of a criminal arrest for a small amount of marijuana, taxpayers are getting hit by a daily $24,000 price tag.  Every year that goes by, over 1400 people are arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana and $9M is spent in enforcement – an investment the majority of Hawaii’s voters do not think is wise. 69% of Hawaii’s people think the possibility of jail time for marijuana is not appropriate, and 76% of voters think that we should focus enforcement on hard drugs and violent crime – not marijuana.  We simply cannot let this go on. 

Hawaii Voters Want Change Now: Buoyed by positive polling, common sense and the national trend away from marijuana prohibition, Hawaii’s marijuana law reform bills are moving carefully through the 2013 legislature. That’s attracting attention from the opposition, including mainland lobbyists who oppose local efforts seeking modest and data-backed reforms that protect youth and free up resources for more serious crimes. Fresh Approach Hawaii is a reflection of the new direction that Hawaii wants. District by district, on every island, 75% of the registered voters said if their state legislator voted to decriminalize marijuana, it would either have no impact (42%) or it would actually make them more likely to vote for their legislator (33%).

Hawaii voters are ready for a fresh approach.

Join the fight! Information, action alerts, and more:

A coalition to reform Hawaii’s marijuana laws: <
Facebook: freshapproachhawaii  
Twitter: freshapproachhi
A confidential support group for medical marijuana patients, doctors and caregivers: <
Facebook: mccoalitionhawaii
Twitter: mccoalitionhi

Ready to decriminalize marijuana? Contact your legislators now!

SB 472 is up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives VERY soon and we need EVERYONE to call or email their elected official in the House of Representatives TODAY and tell them to vote YES on SB 472.

SB 472 (known officially as SB 472, HD 1) has gone through many changes as it has worked its way down the legislative pipes.  As it is written right now (view the bill here:, SB 472 would decriminalize marijuana in Hawai‘i by removing criminal penalties for possession of marijuana of 20 grams or less for adults 18 and over, and instead treat the matter with a fine of $100, like a parking ticket.

This updated proposal fixes the problems of the Senate version by reducing the fine back to $100 (instead of $1000), including ages 18 and up (instead of 21 and over), but it reduces the possession from one ounce (28 grams) to 20 grams.

Those under the age of 18, if caught possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana, would still be charged with a petty misdemeanor and could lose their driver’s license for up to one year. While this updated language around minors’ possession is not what we advocated for, SB 472 is a step in the right direction for marijuana policy reform in Hawai‘i for adults 18 and over.

We plan to use the next year to have more conversations with community members and elected officials to answer questions they have on minors’ use of marijuana and how this penalty is affecting it.

But to get to that conversation with elected officials and community members, we need to pass SB 472 through the Hawai‘i House of Representatives.  

If you do not know who your Representative is, the Hawai‘i State Legislature website has an easy way for you to find out.

1) Go to

2) On the top right hand corner is a box that says “Find Your Legislator”.  Enter in your physical street name only (For instance, if you live on 123 Jones Street, Just enter in “Jones”).

3) Click “Go”.

4) Scroll down to find your Representative that corresponds with your street name and address number.

5) Click on the elected officials’ names to find the information for your legislator (office number or email address).

If you know who your elected official is, you can easily email them by entering in “Rep” and then their last name, followed by So if Mickey Mouse was your Representative, then it would

This is one of the final hurdles for SB 472 and Hawaii’s marijuana policy change for 2013. I know it has been a long couple of months with a lot of debate not only at the Legislature, but also around Hawai‘i, in the newspapers, on TV, and around the kitchen tables.

This is the moment to show our Representatives that this bill has the support from the Hawai‘i community by telling them to VOTE YES on SB 472. Please pass this on to your friends, family members, and colleagues and get them to support SB 472 as well.  Every call/email helps move this bill forward so the discussion can continue.

Again, mahalo for all your efforts thus far in reforming Hawaii’s marijuana policies.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!