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Talk Story Event, January 17th in Waianae and You’re Invited!

save the dateThe Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii would like to invite you (and your friends) to a special event in Waianae.

We are hosting a “Talk Story” session.   It’s free! And, we will provide light refreshments and drinks.

All are invited to attend – if you have colleagues/friends/family that are caregivers, patients or doctors, they are more than welcome to attend. In this 2-hour session you will be given information about:

  1. The newest changes made to the medical marijuana (cannabis) program,
  2. What is happening with efforts to get a dispensary system.

We will discuss what bills may be introduced and we would like to hear your thoughts about them– as we move forward with improving the medical cannabis laws here in Hawai‘i.


When: Saturday, January 17, 2015        

Time: 1 pm – 3 pm            Cost: Free!

What: Talk Story: A chance to ask about Hawaii‘s medical cannabis laws and Legislative Updates. The information panel is: Rafael Kennedy, (Director) and Wendy Gibson, R.N. (Organizer) from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.

Where: Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center,  86-260 Farrington Highway, Waianae.

Directions: From Farrington Highway, turn onto Mailiilii Rd (a Stoplight).

Just past the Bus stop turn LEFT, at the Main Entrance–down the long driveway and park.

Go up the ramp to the 2nd floor of the Administration Building.

Please contact the Medical Cannabis Coalition if you have questions at  (808) 853-3231 or e-mail at

All of our meetings are 100% confidential—but open to the public—so no video, photography or sound recordings please.

Mahalo and we look forward to seeing you on January 17th !


Cannabis Conferences in 2015 You Might be Interested In

Learn more about how to be an effective advocate of drug policy reform at Cannabis Conferences. Two of them are coming up! One in February and one in March of 2015.

The FIRST conference is: icbc_sf_logo_big

International Cannabis Business Conference

Februrary 15, 16, 2015    in San Francisco, California.

The website says: “The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) is a business and networking event like none other. It is unique in that it brings in the top cannabis attorneys and professionals, as well as politicians, celebrities and journalists from around the U.S. and the world. The days are filled with networking and well-informed and lively speakers, and the evenings are filled with music and laughter. The ICBC is an environment expressly created for learning and networking and is a must attend for any serious Canna entrepreneur.”


Dr. Carl Hart, Ph.D, an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University. Author of “High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-discovery that Challenges Everything you know about Drugs and Society”.

Ethan Nadelmann, founding director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), a driving force behind many successful marijuana law reform measures.

Amanda Reiman, Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA),

Dale Gieringer, the state director of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) since 1987

Anthony Johnson, the Director of New Approach Oregon, the political action committee responsible for the successful 2014 ballot measure that legalized and regulated marijuana in Oregon.

CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER- Currently serving his 13th term in Congress, he represents California’s scenic 48th District. He co-sponsored the amendment to the Omnibus spending bill which eliminated Federal Funding for law enforcement interference with medical marijuana programs.


National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference

(3rd Annual), March 27-31, 2015

in Washington, DC.

The speakers are not listed, however this conference is welcome to many: Medical cannabis patients, legal professional, medical professionals, advocates, caregivers, industry professionals or professionals working in any aspect of advocacy including federal, state or local government relations, public relations, public affairs, community activism, coalitions, public policy, campaigns, PAC and grassroots, politics, legislation, and communications.

March 31st is reserved for “LOBBY DAY”.  They note that:

“We know that the best outcomes happen when medical cannabis patients and advocates have a voice in the conversation about policies that affect their lives and/or the lives of loved ones.

Research shows that YOUR citizen lobbying is 6x more effective than lobbying from special interest groups.

When you register for the conference we will make an appointment for you to meet with your Representative on our Lobby Day, March 31, 2015.”

Please pass this information along to others who might wish to attend.

Legalized cultivation and sales on Native American Lands

After the last election in which Oregon, Alaska and D.C. voters legalized marijuana, there has been much speculation about which state will be next. The answer to “Who will be next?” might be ANY state in which Native American Tribes own land.

Chalk farmland Hampshire

On December 11, 2014 the U.S. Justice Department issued a memorandum to U.S. attorneys requesting that they allow Native Americans to grow and sell cannabis on their own sovereign lands, even in states that don’t allow it.

One requirement is that they implement “robust and effective regulatory systems”.

They are also required to respect the eight priorities listed in the U.S. Justice Dept. memo outlining marijuana enforcement priorities (August 29, 2013). These are the priorities:

  1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs,and cartels;
  3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Tribes will reserve the right to request that federal law is upheld, if they decide that they don’t want cannabis to be legal.

Of course, the benefits of complete legalization are many and hopefully they will take advantage of this opportunity to farm cannabis.

This may be the best opportunity to grow hemp.

This may be the best opportunity to produce quality medicinal marijuana.

And, this may be the best opportunity to cultivate high-grade strains of marijuana for recreational or ceremonial use.

The potential benefits of unimpeded cannabis cultivation and sales are many.

To see WHERE these native lands are located WATCH VIDEO here.


Free Workshops on Maui NEXT WEEK and Big Island 12/15-20.

The Public Access Room (PAR) is offering FREE training for anyone who wants to be effective in using the legislative process to change laws. legis

In MAUI on December 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. On the Big Island the following week.

For details –Please see the website and 2014 Maui outreach flyer

Maui Workshops: Dec 2014
Mon Dec 8 3 p Lahaina Kaunoa West Maui Senior Ctr
788 Pauoa St., off Lahainaluna Road
Tue Dec 9 12 noon Pukalani Tavares Community Ctr
91 Pukalani St. (meeting room by the pool)
Wed Dec 10 6 p Kihei Community Ctr
Kihei Community Center303 E. Lipoa St. (small mtg room, by hall)
Thur Dec 11 6 p Wailuku Public Library
251 High St.
Fri Dec 12 12 noon Kahului Community Ctr
275 Uhu St. (in Kahului Community Park)
Hawaii Island Workshops: Dec 2014
Schedule in development, tentatively set for December 15-20.

Phone Red

And, please call them if you would like to have group or individual instruction: Maui  (808) 984- 2400 (extension 7-0478), Big Island (808) 974-4000 (ext. 7-0478), Oahu (808) 587-0478.


We have a new Field Organizer –WENDY GIBSON

We have a new field organizer joining our team. Wendy Gibson is an RN who has been an advocate of drug policy reform for many years. Here’s what she has to say to you:

Hello everyone,

I’m Wendy Gibson, a nurse, and medical marijuana (cannabis) patient advocate. I’m pleased to announce that I will be serving as The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii’s new Field Organizer.

It’s great to be joining them at such an exciting (and hopeful) time in our drug reform history. I appreciate the DPFHI successes in reforming Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana (cannabis) Program and promoting harm reduction policies.

In my 21 years of living on Oahu, the transfer of the Medical Marijuana program to the Department of Health is one of the biggest successes, one that I advocated for. I know this will help thousands of patients. And, knowing the need for a dispensary system, I’m hopeful that the Dispensary Task Force will help us establish one.

I have worked in the health care field for over 30 years, 21 of those here in Hawaii. I pushed many pharmaceutical drugs to patients for 9 years working as a pharmacy clerk and for 4 years as an R.N. I hope to work just as many years helping promote the use of alternative medications, such as cannabis which is showing promise as a safer and more effective treatment than many of the current pharmaceuticals.

I envision a future in which science and education prevail, so that people are no longer fearfully rejecting the use of these alternative (and formerly illegal) substances as medicine.

I’m looking forward to working with fellow advocates who share my opinion that all drugs should be legalized and regulated. This is the only way to truly promote harm reduction and good healthcare.

Travel Guru Rick Steves on Legalization

steves_01Travel guru Rick Steves has been a long time supporter of the legalization of marijuana, but he has recently started taking on a much larger role in helping to make legalization a reality.

You can learn more about Rick Steves’ views on drug policy here.

Steves has been doing a 10 city tour of Oregon in support of that state’s legalization initiative: Measure 91. Here are a few of the best quotes from one of his recent events (courtesy of Williamette Week magazine)

  • “A lot of Americans have this dream of a drug free society. There never has been a drug free society, there never will be a drug free society, and frankly I don’t want a drug free society.”
  • “I think fear is for people who don’t get out much. There’s a lot of fear wrapped up in this drug policy debate—fear of doing something different.”
  • “It’s fun to make Cheech and Chong jokes, but this is a very serious issue.”
  • “The best way to lose control of a dangerous substance is to make it illegal. The best way to gain control of it is to regulate it and educate people. I think we can do that with marijuana.”
  • On minority arrests and citations for marijuana-related crimes: “That’s the new Jim Crow.”
  • “States are incubators of change. State by state, we’re going to take down the prohibition of our age.”
  • “I’m a hardworking, churchgoing, kid raising, tax-paying, American citizen. If I want to go home, smoke a joint and look at the fireplace all night, that’s my civil liberty.”


Robert Sharpe responds to Kevin Sabet’s Letter to the Editor

If you missed Kevin Sabet’s most recent letter to the editor, you can probably imagine what its about after just reading the headline: “If you think Big Tobacco is bad wait until you see Big Marijuana.” The crux of his argument is that legalization will create a new Big Tobacco that will be even worse for reasons that don’t make very much sense.

I responded to his editorial with this letter to the editor:

No one wants to return to prohibition:

Yesterday’s paper featured an Op-ed by Kevin Sabet of Project SAM, an anti-marijuana organization. He argues that legalization will create a new “big tobacco” trying to prey on children and get people addicted to marijuana. His comparison is misleading. No one is seriously disputing that marijuana safer than tobacco and alcohol. Still, even if it were as dangerous as Sabet claims to believe it is, how would that be an argument for its continued prohibition?

I doubt that Sabet would make the case that we should go back to the “Boardwalk Empire” world of bootlegging and moonshine. Alcohol is far more harmful than marijuana is, and what we learned from our experience in the 1920’s is that prohibition makes it even worse. During prohibition the profits enrich criminals, and there can be no regulation. I agree with Sabet that a new big tobacco is not what we want to see. That doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to ongoing prohibition.

That being said, the Star Advertiser chose instead to publish this editorial submitted by Robert Sharpe:

We already have ‘Big Marijuana’

Kevin Sabet just doesn’t get it (“If you think Big Tobacco was bad, wait until you see Big Marijuana,” Star-Advertiser, Insight, Sept. 24).

Big Marijuana already exists in the form of Mexican drug cartels. These are ruthless people who cut off heads to resolve business disputes, sell drugs to anyone regardless of age, and have a vested financial interest in providing cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin to consumers.

Like it or not, marijuana is here to stay. We can collect taxes on legal marijuana or we can subsidize drug cartels. Punitive laws have little, if any, deterrent value. Despite the dire predictions of drug warriors, the sky is not falling in Colorado.

There is no societal benefit to having consumers purchase untaxed, unregulated and potentially unsafe marijuana from criminals. It’s time to put public health before culture-war politics. We can close the gateway to hard drugs by taxing and regulating legal marijuana.

Robert Sharpe
Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post Embarrasses Itself

Let me start by saying that generally, I am a actually a big supporter of the Washington Post. One of my favorite data journalists, Christopher Ingraham is a reporter with them, and I generally find the coverage at WaPo to be well researched and informative.

... from the Washington Post editorial board.
… from the Washington Post editorial board.

That’s why this editorial board article is such a let down. Not only are they opposed to legalization, which might be forgiveable, their rationale is utterly junk.

Firstly, they cite a Project SAM article about legalization in Colorado. This article uses data from before legalization in Colorado to show “legalization’s adverse affects” which is obviously bunk. The Washington post is not the first paper to have made the mistake of using Project SAM “data” as though it actually meant what they claim it did. Still, they not only used this “data” in their rationale, they cited it publicly.

They also refused to speak with any proponents of the legalization effort in DC. Had they done so, these proponents, familiar with the tactics of Project SAM, may well have pointed this out to them, and saved the Washington Post a little bit of egg on its face.

Further, they advanced the theory that marijuana is a gateway drug. This is simply not true. Liberalization of marijuana laws reduces abuse of harder drugs, both in the United States and elsewhere. (Here’s a good, in depth report on it if you need more on the gateway drug hypothesis) At this point, citing the gateway drug hypothesis is like saying that the earth is flat. People used to believe it, but they were wrong and everyone knows that now.

It’s nothing short of embarrassing for the Washington Post, and it seems unlike them to listen only to one side of a story. I hope that this is a blip and not the start of a bold new direction their taking.

Roger Christie Released to Half-Way House

Watch this story at KITV.


Roger Christie has been released to an Oahu half-way house.

The police and federal law enforcement treated Roger Christie as a threat to the community, and kept him locked away in a federal penitentiary for 50 months.  While he was away, things have been changing. Colorado, Christie’s home state where he once ran for mayor of Denver, legalized recreational marijuana. In time, the state of Hawaii and the nation as a whole may recognize that what happened to Roger Christie was unconscionable, but until then, he will have to hope that his sacrifice was not in vain, and that he can help to effect change in Hawaii’s marijuana laws.

Ethan Nadelmann Talks about Decriminalization

Ethan Nadelmann is the Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance, a group that works on drug policy issues nationwide. Here is a video of him speaking about the decriminalization of marijuana on Democracy Now.

It seems to me that Hawaii should look towards taking the approach used by Washington D.C. for its next decriminalization bill.