What if they gave a war (on cannabis) and nobody funded it?

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In a HUGE VICTORY this weekend, U.S. Senators voted to stop funding the war on cannabis—by cutting FEDERAL funding to the Department of Justice for enforcement.  Last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted the same way.

That’s two strikes on the war on cannabis. What is the phrase “Three Strikes, you’re out”? The third strike needed is President Obama’s signature.

So, if he signs the $1.01 trillion spending bill (and it’s expected that he will), what does this mean?

The Federal Department of Justice can no longer use federal funds to interfere with medical marijuana operations in States which have legalized marijuana for medical use.

This provides protection for the state-sanctioned use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.

That means no more FEDERAL DRUG RAIDS on state-legal medical marijuana dispensary operations.

A Huffington Post article notes that  “The bill protects medical marijuana programs in the 23 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, as well as 11 additional states that have legalized CBD oils, a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that has shown to be beneficial in some cases of severe epilepsy. “

It adds: Americans for Safe Access (ASA) called the measure “historic” and said patients’ rights advocates believe it “will dramatically impact DOJ enforcement, including ending federal medical marijuana raids, arrests, criminal prosecutions, and civil asset forfeiture lawsuits.”  And, according to a report released last year by ASA, the Obama administration has spent nearly $80 million each year cracking down on medical marijuana, which amounts to more than $200,000 per day.


What this really means is THAT the will of the people is being heard and acted upon.

Congress is listening to the vast majority of Americans (78 percent) who support states’ right to allow access to medical cannabis.

This attachment to the spending bill was applauded by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and many other common sense drug policy reform groups.


Wanted: Medical Marijuana Dispensary System for Hawaii


Do YOU think that having a Medical Marijuana Dispensary System for qualified patients in Hawaii is a good idea?

You are certainly not alone.

The State of Hawaii Auditor’s conclusion is a resounding “YES we do”. One of the reasons: to protect the public from potential harm. The auditor recognizes that the current system forces patients to either grow their own or seek out black markets. The Auditor’s report (a Sunrise Analysis) reviewed the need and explains the potential benefits of having a medical marijuana dispensary—if a bill is passed.

The Auditor explained:

“Because the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law, there is no place within the state to legally obtain marijuana, which forces qualifying medical marijuana patients to either grow their own (MMJ) or seek out black market products,” the report reads. “For this overriding reason, we conclude that regulation of dispensaries is needed to protect the public from potential harm.”

The report goes on to say that without a system of regulated dispensaries, “patients’ health is jeopardized because a product’s strength, strain and lack of contaminants cannot be verified”

The AUDITORS full report can be viewed at the Public Policy Center at UH Manoa website.

If you read the whole report it refers to House Bill 1587 (a 2014 bill which didn’t pass). The findings are still very important, especially for legislators when reviewing a dispensary bill which WILL be introduced in 2015.

The content of the bill will be based on recommendations by the (HCR-48) Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force members who have been working on this for several months.

You can see the minutes from past meetings HERE.

One of the Dispensary Task Force members, State Senator Josh Green, M.D., (D-Kona), who chairs the Senate Health Committee, offered this hopeful sentiment to West Hawaii Today:

He said that he is confident a [dispensary] bill will pass and it will be signed by Governor David Ige. He also offered that “The program needs to be very tightly regulated . . . And, it should be about the patients who need it the most having access.”

This is encouraging to those working on making medical marijuana dispensaries a reality.

 Want to know more?

ON December 16, 2014, You can watch the DISPENSARY TASK FORCE in action when they meet to give their recommendations–at the State Capitol (9-11 A.M.).



Medical Marijuana Certifications Need to be RENEWED BEFORE December 15, 2014

The State of Hawaii Department of Health has not assumed management of the Medical Marijuana program yet–but sent this notice for Qualified Medical Marijuana Users.






HONOLULU – Hawaii patients whose medical marijuana certification is expiring by the end of December are urged to renew their certification with the Department of Public Safety before Dec. 12, 2014.

A patient with a debilitating medical condition must obtain a signed physician’s medical statement that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient before applying for a written certification from the Department of Public Safety.

The medical marijuana program has been in operation for 14 years and, as required in Act 177, is being transferred to the Department of Health, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

There will be a planned blackout period from Dec. 12 to 31, 2014 in which no certifications will be issued to prepare for this transition.

Although federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, Hawaii is one of 23 states and the District of Columbia that has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, acknowledging the health benefits of medical marijuana use.

Certifications are good for 12 months and are issued on an annual basis. Patients must possess a current certification that allows lawful cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes. This certification must be available to law enforcement officials at any time to avoid potential legal action. The Department of Health will honor all current Department of Public Safety medical marijuana certifications through their expiration date.

The current registration fee to receive a medical marijuana card from the Department of Public Safety is $25. In keeping with Act 177, commencing Jan. 1, 2015 medical marijuana applications will be submitted through an online process to the Department of Health and the registration fee will increase to $38.50 including the portal fee. Online payment will be available and is encouraged for faster services.

For questions about the transition, patients may call the Medical Marijuana Information Hotline for recorded messages at 733-2177.

Toll free numbers have also been established for neighbor island residents: Hawaii Island residents may call 974-4000, ext. 32177; Maui residents may call 984-2400, ext. 32177; and Kauai residents may call 274-3141, ext. 32177.

For the most up-to-date information, visit the new Department of Health, Medical Marijuana Program’s website at health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana.


Free Workshops on Maui and the Big Island!

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.


New Housing Protections for Medical Cannabis Patients to take effect November 1st.

Landlords and Renters (in the private sector), please take note:

Housing rules are changing to afford better protection for medical marijuana patients in Hawaii. Now patients who rent in the private sector will have some new protections against being evicted for their lawful use of medical cannabis. This will not necessarily affect all medical cannabis patients, and if you are being threatened with eviction, you should contact a lawyer, but it is still a big step in the right direction!

This takes effect NOVEMBER 1, 2014.


Download the PDF file .



Review of Medical Cannabis For Seniors Presentation

Thank you to everyone who attended the “Medical Cannabis for             Seniors” Presentation on Saturday, October 25th.

For those of you who missed it, here’s a summary of what medical cannabis IS and what it IS NOT.

Simply stated: Medical cannabis is not about getting high, it IS about getting well. This presentation focused on learning how to use your medicine if you qualify to be a patient in the Medical Marijuana program of Hawaii.

The audience was treated to an entertaining history of cannabis use from ancient times to current times. Cannabis Indica as medicine

It was complete with photos of cannabis preparations that were available in apothecaries in the United States from about 1850 to 1937.


It included the story of how marijuana became illegal in the first place–A decision based on racist agendas and misconceptions propagated by the media rather than science.

Because patients are only allowed to grow their own medicine in Hawaii, the presenter covered the importance of having only virgin FEMALE plants, explaining how pollination by the male plants can ruin the entire crop. He covered the differences between the SATIVA and the INDICA plants and gave an overview of the different cannabinoids (Say “can-NAB-in-noids”) found in cannabis including THC and CBD.

More on CBD  can be found by clicking here:  http://www.hempforfuture.com/2014/04/19/cannabidiol-cbd-fighting-inflammation-aggressive-forms-of-cancer/

We learned about some of the physical healing properties as well as the mental healing properties of cannabis. Our presenter pointed out the differences between using the raw forms vs. the heated and aged forms of cannabis. Some people were surprised at all of the many ways that patients can use cannabis as medicine, including a suppository form which may bring the medicine closer to affected part.

He explained the golden rules of learning how to use the medicine which are: to start out with very small doses and to slowly increase dosages by very small increments over time.

The presenter encouraged people to learn more about cannabis as medicine and gave suggestions on some resources including using Google (+ a diagnosis) searches, some books and the Medical Use of Marijuana booklet –Click here to see Booklet http://medicalcannabiscoalitionhi.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/mmj_booklet_2008_2on1.pdf

We hope that you can make it to the next presentation, or any of our other upcoming events.

Click  HERE  to find out more about events

If you would like to have the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii make a presentation to your group, please contact us by e-mail at info@mcchi.org or phone us at (808) 469-5249.

Have a safe Halloween!

Announcing New Field Organizer

We’re very proud to announce that we have a new member of the team! Wendy Gibson, a long-standing patient advocate has come on board as our new field organizer. Here’s what she has to say:

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’s 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 promoted using pharmaceutical drugs to patients for 9 years working as a pharmacy clerk and for 4 years as an R.N. I hope to work for just as many years helping promote the use of alternative medications, such as cannabis which is showing promise as a safer and sometimes 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 for harm reduction and health promotion.

PA Governor’s Race Will Determine the Fate of Medical Marijuana

Read the full story here.

In Pennsylvania, the press has taken to the idea that the Gubernatorial race will likely determine whether or not the state adopts legislation that will allow for Medical Marijuana.

Even if the state legislator is supportive of medical marijuana, and in Pennsylvania, they seem to be, the office of the governor will eventually need to either sign or veto any legislation. Media outlets such as the Daily Pennsylvanian, therefore see the governor’s race as the deciding factor in medical marijuana.

We in Hawaii need to look at their example and begin to compare the various candidates that we will be choosing between with regard to their potential impact on the medical marijuana laws here in Hawaii. We have been working with the Dispensary Task Force to develop a law that will allow for dispensaries in the state of Hawaii. Even if we are able to get this dispensary bill through the state legislature, we will then need to get it signed by the governor. Please, let’s all learn as much as possible about the gubernatorial candidates, and what they would do if a dispensary bill were to land on their desks.

Dispensaries Task Force Holds O’ahu Public Input Hearing

Watch the coverage on KITV, or read the article at the Star Advertiser.

indexThe second and final public input session was held at the State Capitol on Wednesday the 24th of September. Turn-out was relatively limited compared with the number that showed up for the Public Input Hearing in Hilo earlier in the month. Still, the audience for the most part was very supportive of dispensaries, and expressed frustration with the slow pace of reform in Hawai’i.


Some speakers argued for a more permissive dispensary system, and others argued for more restrictions on who could open dispensaries and where they could be located, and about safety concerns. Still the overwhelming consensus seems to be that dispensaries are needed, and soon. A hearty mahalo to those supporters of a patient centered dispensary system that were able to voice their opinions at the event!

Just Where Exactly did that 9% Dependence Figure Come From

2014-01-27-drew_hart_cnn-thumbWe recently attended a screening of the relatively supportive documentary WEED, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. It cites, and spends a great deal of time repeating the often cited statistic that 9% of marijuana users become addicted to marijuana. Likewise, today’s paper includes an Op-Ed by Kevin Sabet of the prohibitionist group Project SAM that repeats this dubious claim. If you hear that figure and think that it sounds high, you’re right. Here’s an excellent piece by doctor Sunil Aggarwal explaining the faulty science behind it.

The truth is that this study was done in 1994 by the anti-drug government body NIDA, and involved asking self reported “cannabis users” a series of questions like “do you often spend a long time on activities necessary to get the substance, taking the substance, or recovering from its effects?” If people answered yes, they were coded as cannabis dependent, whether or not they considered themselves dependent on cannabis. Even more importantly, people who infrequently used marijuana would be much less likely to identify themselves as cannabis users, especially in the early 90’s when it was much more strongly stigmatized than it seems to be today. Let’s get rid of this particular piece of “data” when we talk about marijuana.