Happy New Year — 2016 will be a Big Year for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Happy New Year Everyone!  January is going to be a very busy month for the Medical (Cannabis) Marijuana Program in Hawaii.P medical-marijuana  With the passage of HB321, (now referred to as ACT 241), up to 16 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries may be opening this year!! There may be up to 6 dispensaries on Oahu, 4 on Hawaii Island, 4 in Maui County, and 2 on Kauai. This could generate up to 800 jobs, according to an article in the Star Advertiser.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this a reality.


The Patient Registry will continue to be administered by the Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Services (formerly STD/AIDS prevention) branch. You can sign up for program updates on their website. They succeeded in transferring a paper-based system into an online system, created a way to track statistics as well as a way for law enforcement to verify patient validity, while maintaining patient confidentiality. They reported that in November 2015, they registered 12,630 medical marijuana patients. While initially, registrations were delayed, they report that most of the cards are now being sent out within two weeks. Patients who wish to learn how to create an online application can watch this VIDEO.

The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program will be Administered by the Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance  (OHCA). They are the people who oversee licensing, surveys & inspections of adult day health centers, ambulatory surgical centers, home health agencies, hospitals, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities, and clinical laboratories. Frequently Asked Questions will be published on their website.  Pacific Business News reports that Attorney Margaret “Peggy” Leong, is the new head of the program. Read about the Seed to Sale tracking company, Bio Track THC, chosen by the DOH,  HERE in MJ Headline News.

Time frames for Dispensaries in 2016:

January 11th — Applications will be made available by OHCA.

January 12th to 29th — Applications will be accepted. Panel will begin review & merit scoring.

April 15th — Winners of licenses announced. Growers may begin growing.

July 15th — First Dispensaries may open their doors.


The Interim Administration Rules, HAR 11-850 (published 12/15/15) are available HERE.  The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFHI) and the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance (HDA) and legislators presented concerns at an Informational Legislative Briefing, held on December 28, 2015. You can watch the two-hour long briefing HERE thanks to Olelo.


Events to watch for in January:

January 15th (Friday) from 4-5pm–Tune in to the Jeff Davis Radio Show (AM Radio Station 1080 -KWAI) to listen to hosts Wendy Gibson (Field Organizer for The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, and Antoinette Lilley (President of Hawaii Dispensary Alliance) talk about medical cannabis in Hawaii.

January 20th Opening Day at the State Capitol.  Always an exciting day and good way to meet your legislators. 

January 30 and 31st — Come to the Hawaii Cannabis Expo at the Blaisdell Center.

Educational Opportunities.  You can learn more about:

* How to participate in Hawaii’s Legislative Process through the Public Access Room (PAR). Watch their videos HERE.  Learn how to write testimony HERE.

* Cannabis and Health Issues by watching the “Medical cannabis Health Summit, a FREE, Online session with 20+ of the world’s top experts, doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs will deliver ultra-compelling, 22-minute presentations about the most important cannabis and health issues today.

Date: Saturday, January 23– Sunday, January 24 from 9 am – 5 pm, Pacific time. Register soon!

JOIN in the discussion through the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii’s e-mail newsletter updates and Action Alerts HERE.

Halloween Cannabis Candy Scare Needs Perspective

Regulation is the best way to protect our Keiki.

Last month, two Hawai’i teenagers wound up in an Emergency Room after consuming an illegal product laced with an extremely high concentration of cannabis.

At the time, we put out a statement (below), which still holds true as the story gets recirculated in the run-up to Halloween.

Scares like this tend to crop up at this time of year.  It merits mentioning that in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, there were ZERO cases of cannabis candy poisoning on Halloween that year.

You may have seen the September 29, 2015 Hawaii News Now video about the Hawai’i teens that wound up in an emergency room after ingesting fruit roll-ups laced with some type of cannabis extract.  Thankfully, the teens had a brief ER stay and are now doing fine.

Here’s what you need to know to complement the report:

  • The product is clearly illegal and intended for recreational purposes.
  • The media report’s reference to“medical marijuana” is spurious. Few, if any, medical marijuana patients would have any interest in this potentially dangerous item.
  • Therefore, as there was no quality assurance in the making of these rolls, it is highly possible that the product contains contaminates such as mold, pesticides or solvent residues.
  • The symptoms like vomiting are expected results of ingesting a high dose of a concentrated substance or a contaminated product.
  • Cannabis has been used medically for decades to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease and nausea. However, when used recklessly or recreationally, large amounts of cannabis can cause gastrointestinal problems and more.

Ultimately, this is exactly the type of situation that is more likely to happen when you have no regulation of a market and a total absence of quality control. In addition, a black market like this does not care about our keiki or check IDs.

Next year, Hawai’i will see the opening of its first medical marijuana dispensaries, addressing all of these problems. 

Dispensaries will have tight security and adhere to strict regulations. They will sell only safe and tested products. They WILL check IDs–prohibiting sales to anyone under age 21.

Most importantly, we are glad that the teens received the medical attention they needed and that they recovered from this scary experience. We hope that they will tell their peers about the need to avoid these types of dangerous scams.

To learn more about how to TALK TO TEENS about drugs, please read SAFETY FIRST: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs.

Safety First

When Will Hawaii’s Patients Be Able to Buy Medical Marijuana? On PBS

When Will Hawaii’s Patients Be Able to Buy Medical Marijuana?

That was the question answered by panelists on the PBS Insights interactive discussion. INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAII aired “When Will Hawaii’s Patients Be Able to Buy Medical Marijuana?”on Thursday, April 9, 8:00 pm. This will be rerun on Sunday, April 12 at 2:00 pm.

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAII is a live public affairs show. The panelists were: House Representative Della Au Belatti, Pamela Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Forum, Doug Chin , Attorney General, and Alan Shinn, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii.

If you missed it, you can VIEW it by clicking HERE.

If you missed “What’s Next for Marijuana in Hawaii” on Civil Cafe–You can watch it now!

On February 19, 2015 the Civil Cafe panelists answered questions about “What’s Next for Marijuana in Hawaii”. In case you missed it, pop some popcorn and sit back and enjoy two hours of the panel discussion with questions from the audience. The four panelists were:

Senator Will Espero, Wendy Gibson R.N. from the Drug Policy Forum, Alan Shinn from Drug-Free  Hawaii and Capt. Jason Kawabata from HPD’s Narcotics/Vice Division.

Click HERE for the link to Civil Cafe on Olelo.

Civil Cafe Cory Lum photoPhoto by Cory Lum.

Is it really Medicine? A NOT so brief (but interesting) History of Medical Marijuana

If you are a Medical Marijuana (cannabis) patient then you know the answer is “YES” when someone asks “Is marijuana really a medicine?” It’s a question that some people are still asking—so here’s a little background of how marijuana has been used throughout history.

The oldest documented use of marijuana (cannabis) as medicine goes back to about 2900 BC in China.

What about use in the United States?

1652: The British Herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote about medical uses for Hemp (the cannabis plant). George Washington did too,  between 1745 and 1775.

1850 to 1937: many patented marijuana preparations were sold in apothecaries (pharmacies).Cannabis Indica as medicine

The Pharmacopoeia

In 1851: Cannabis was included in the United States Pharmacopoeia, the book used to identify and standardize (the then mostly botanical) drugs in medical use.

Marijuana was listed as useful for treatment for numerous afflictions including: neuralgia, alcoholism, opiate addiction, tetanus, typhus, cholera, dysentery, leprosy, incontinence, gout, convulsive disorders, tonsillitis, insanity, and excessive menstrual bleeding.

The supplies (indica flowers) used in making the medicine came mainly from India. These supplies were interrupted by World War I.

1913: the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it had succeeded in growing domestic cannabis of equal quality to the Indian cannabis. By 1918, about 60,000 pounds were produced annually, from pharmaceutical farms.

1920s through 1940’s: Reefer Madness was born. Driven by industrialists, racists and law enforcement media hype–the public responds with mass hysteria about the dangers of Marijuana to society. Alcohol prohibition ends and Marijuana begins to take its place.

1937: The American Medical Association opposes the passage of the Marihuana (Stamp) Tax Act, which  charged doctors, pharmacists and producers for sales. The required stamps are expensive to buy and only a few are issued, discouraging everyone involved in cannabis sales. Cannabis products disappeared from pharmacy shelves and in 1943 cannabis was removed from the Pharmacopeia.

1964: Dr. Rafael Mechoulam and colleague, Dr. Yehiel Gaoni, identified and synthesized delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

1970: Marijuana becomes illegal and classified alongside heroin as a Schedule I drug—a class of drugs that are considered to have NO medicinal value.

1976: The Federal Governments recognizes that marijuana has medicinal use. The Investigational New Drug (Compassionate Use) Program (IND) is created to allow Robert Randall to use marijuana to treat his glaucoma. Other patients enroll and also receive 300 rolled marijuana cigarettes per month to treat their conditions.

1978: Individual states begin recognizing marijuana as useful medicine. New Mexico becomes the first state to create a medical marijuana program.

1980: Marinol, a synthetic version of THC is fast-tracked as a prescription medicine, primarily for AIDS and cancer patients.

1990sScientists discover two types of Cannabinoid receptors in the human brain (CB1 and CB2 ) which buffer the effects of THC.

1992: Scientists Discover Endocannabinoids –your body’s natural cannabinoid system. The ECS controls central and peripheral nervous system functions, energy intake, processing and storage, the immune response, reproduction and cell fate production system. New era for medical research begins!ECS neurons

1999: The IND program is shut down to new applicants (by President Ronald Reagan) after too many (hundreds of) patients applied. Although officially terminated, the 13 remaining patients continue to receive government-issued marijuana

2000: Hawaii Legislators recognize that marijuana is medicine and create the Medical Marijuana Program.  Qualifying conditions include: cancer, glaucoma, HIV (+) status, chronic or debilitating disease: Severe pain, severe nausea, seizures (epilepsy), severe & persistent muscle spasms (from Multiple Sclerosis or Crohn’s Disease), severe weakness, malnutrition or weight loss (wasting syndrome & cachexia).

2003: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services receives Cannabinoids Patent (patent (US 6,630,507 B1)  for the therapeutic use of “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants, suggesting it may be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

TODAY (2015): MANY MEDICAL PRACTICES INCLUDE

MARIJUANA AS A MEDICINE

In Israel, cannabis therapy is incorporated into clinical, hospital, and nursing home settings. In Canada, physicians can approve a specific amount of cannabis for their patients which is delivered to their home. There are TEN PHARMACEUTICAL drugs based on chemicals found in the cannabis plant.

In the United States: 23 States have medical marijuana programs. The Department of Health assumed administration of Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana program, making improvements immediately.

Health Care Professionals are attempting to educate other Health Care Professionals and Patients. This includes the work of the  Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the American Cannabis Nursing Association, and the United Patients Group.

So, NOW if anybody still wonders if you think that Marijuana is really medicine—please tell them that this question was answered a very LONG time AGO…. and please help them find educational resources (like this article).

 

Kauai Talk Story–You’re Invited–This Saturday

The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii would like to invite you (and your friends) to a special event on Kauai (in Lihue)!

KauaiWe 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 legislative efforts (getting a dispensary system is one of them).

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

YOUR INVITATION

When: Saturday, January 24, 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: Lihue Public Library–4344 Hardy Street—between Kaana & Umi Street.

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

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 24th !

HEARINGS start on January 28th for Proposed Administrative Rules Changes–Medical Marijuana Program

save the dateSince 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.