Star Advertiser on Dispensaries Task Force

hsa_logoThe Star Advertiser has just run a rather helpful editorial about our ongoing effort in the task force to establish a system of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Click this link to read the full editorial. You will need a digital subscription to the paper.

While the editorial may not be saying much new, it is nice to hear the same truths that we know repeated by others. Here is their summary of why dispensaries are needed in Hawaii:

The dispensaries are needed because under the state’s 14-year-old law, patients may be legally qualified to use marijuana but have no reasonable means of getting it. They either must grow it themselves, have a caregiver grow it for them, or buy it illegally.


America’s Only Medical Marijuana Researcher Fired

Read the story at the Daily Beast, or at Medical Jane.

Sisley giving a presentation about her experiment. Image comes from
Sisley giving a presentation about her experiment. Image comes from

There is plenty to read about the study, that would have examined the role that medical cannabis could play in PTSD for veterans.

There is also a lot written about Sue Sisley, a political conservative psychiatrist who arrived at a position of support for medical cannabis after her patients reported having used it successfully.

The sad part of this story is that even in today’s political climate, where support for medical marijuana, and for medical marijuana research is at an all-time high, politics can still get in the way of both compassionate treatment and scientific research.

How the War on Drugs has Become a War on Kids

Juvenile In Justice. This photo is part of a series from the book of the same name. (Photo credit: Richard Ross)

Read the full article by Diane Goldstein at

It may not seem like it in Hawaii, but progress on liberalization of marijuana laws is happening fast.

We are slowly reducing the number of people who end up in prison for posession of marijuana, and are increasing safe access to marijuana as medicine. Still, there is a lot of money tied to treatment of alcohol and drug dependence, and as we transition from a society fighting to keep those using marijuana out of prison, we may become a society that has to reign in its treatment industry.

The article by Diane Goldstein highlights the fact that drug treatment programs are often very helpful and important in the lives of young people struggling with dependance. That said, it is also a very lucrative industry, and many of the people placed into its care have not sought help. Instead, most of the people in treatment for “marijuana addiction” are there because of law enforcement referrals. A Southern California physician recently pleaded guilty to falsely identifying teenagers as drug or alcohol addicts to justify millions in bills to the government’s rehabilitation program for the poor.

This has been one of the stumbling blocks to decriminalization in Washington DC: there was no mechanism by which law enforcement could forcibly refer children to treatment. As we stop putting people in jail for marijuana, we will still need to find stronger ways to make sure the same stigmatization, discrimination, and abuse does not merely transition from law enforcement into a faux treatment industry.

Dispensaries Task Force is Kicking into High Gear

taskforceMany of you likely know about the dispensaries task force resolution that was passed during the 2014 legislative session. This task force will propose legislation to create a system of dispensaries that suits the needs of Hawaii’s medical cannabis patients. The task force just had its first meeting, and this has spawned a slew of positive mentions in the media.

Here is an excellent segment highlighting the need for dispensaries from KITV.

Here is a segment from HPR2, featuring Peter Whiticar from the Department of Health explaining how the current system works and why a dispensary system is urgently needed and long overdue.

Finally, this story from the Star Advertiser features interviews with several members of the task force including Peter Whiticar and patient Karl Malivuk.

It is excellent to watch, hear, and read stories that place the need for marijuana dispensaries in a context of compassion and open-mindedness. I hope that the recommendations of the task force will be greeted with the same level of discourse that the task force itself has been.

Senate About to Vote on Defunding DEA Raids on Medical Cannabis

wpid-wp-1402331519077.jpegRead the story from the Daily Chronic, or sinply click here to use NORML’s tool that will help you instantly write to your senators.

The amendment that recently passed the House of Representatives, called the Rohrabacher-Farr ammendment, will now be introduced to the Senate. Please take a moment, if you haven’t yet, to support this enormous step toward ending federal interference with progressive state medical cannabis programs!

New Mexico Court of Appeals Rules That Cannabis is Covered by Insurance

Read the full story here.


Until now, supporters of medical cannabis have not been quick to push for insurance coverage for medical cannabis. The health insurance system is regulated nationally, and Hawaii’s near miss with SB2574/HB2092 SD1 showed just how much the Medical Cannabis program has to fear from being incorporated into the quagmire of health insurance.

Still, there are many good reasons for wanting it to be a covered medical treatment, not the least of which will be cost savings.

Medical Marijuana is currently at something of a crossroads between being accepted and used as Western medicine, with all of the benefits and limitations of that label, and being a part of alternative medicine. Until now, the illegality of medical cannabis and the stigma attached to using cannabis as medicine have forced it into the category of alternative medicine. Perhaps this is a decision that we need to make.

Executive Director Mike Attocknie Speaks on HPR’s The Conversation

Listen to the clip at our sister organization’s website!

Mike Attocknie, the Executive Director of The Drug Policy Action Group and The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii gave an excellent 8 minute interview to the HPR radio Show The Conversation. Click the link above to listen to him speak about the failure of the drug war and the need for progressive policies on marijuana and other drugs.