Category Archives: Legislative

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.

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.).

 

 

International drug law reform expert to speak in Honolulu 11/1/13

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii is co-founder of the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii – congratulations on 20 years serving 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:http://dpfhi.org/2013/06/14/the-most-influential-man-in-the-battle-for-legalization-is-a-wonky-intellectual-in-dad-jeans/.

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 info@dpfhi.org 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.
http://www.dpfhi.org

Hnl Civil Beatʻs Chad Blair: Itʻs High Time to Legalize Pot

http://www.civilbeat.com/posts/2013/09/30/20015-chad-blair-its-high-time-to-legalize-pot/ (no login needed)

“Hawaii is one of 20 states along with the District of Columbia that have made legal the use of medical marijuana, although the program has been imperfect. This year, however, the Hawaii Legislature took a major step in recognizing that med pot is about health needs and not law enforcement when it transferred control of the state’s program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health.”

Illinois becomes 20th state to legalize medical marijuana

Hawaii welcomes Illinois to the now 40% of U.S. states with a program for safe access to marijuana by sick and dying people. Illinois, like Hawaii, passed this measure legislatively, which can be more tricky than referendum, due to the intense lobbying and political will required of advocates and legislators. Well done! the Illinois program includes a tightly regulated dispensary system, something the Hawaii program, though established in 2000, still lacks – a terrible “catch-22” for our patients who can get a medical marijuana recommendation, but have no way to get their medicine without finding seeds (which are illegal) and growing it themselves or resorting to the black market. The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii and allies  will keep fighting for safe, legal access to medical marijuana in Hawaii, including a sensible dispensary system.

ChicagoTriblogo

Gov. Pat Quinn took a moment to speak at the University of Chicago before signing Illinois’ new medical marijuana bill, saying it was an “important day, I think, for healing” in the state.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-quinn-to-sign-medical-marijuana-bill-thursday-20130731,0,6053984.story

Upcoming FAQ on MMJ Law updates, your input requested

The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii is developing a “frequently asked questions” section about the two new bills (HB 668/Act 177 and SB 642/Act 178), both of which do not take effect until right after New Year, 2015.

The ink is still drying on these bills, and weʻre asking peopleʻs continued patience with the process as they are now (slowly) turned into new rules and systems by the Department of Health.

This “administrative rule making process” is subject to public input and scrutiny – and we will track it closely.  Specifically, we are aware of emerging concerns surrounding the “primary care physician” (“PCP”) clause in the recently signed SB 642, and the impact this would have on patients. The rule making process is where we will work to ensure that such as-yet unclarified terms like “PCP” are resolved in the most patient-centered and inclusive way.

Questions or ideas? Please email info@mcchi.org

Please keep sharing your concerns with us. We will try to address these in the upcoming FAQ section, and are planning to continue the inter-island “listening tour” with Hawaiiʻs patients that we began in 2012 to hear more from you all directly as we continue on the road to an ever-better medical marijuana program in Hawaii.

Bills to improve patient privacy and safe access to medical marijuana become law

State_of_Hawaii_sealAdvocates call measures a “significant first step” to modernize Hawaii’s thirteen year-old medical marijuana law

(Honolulu, 6/25/2013) Patient advocates celebrated the signing of two bills to improve Hawaii’s 13 year-old medical marijuana program – the first updates to pass the legislature since the program began. Approved today were measures to move program oversight away from the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) and to the Department of Health (“DOH”), and to adjust the type and amount of medical marijuana a patient can legally possess.

HB 668 CD1 moves oversight of the program to the DOH, a move welcomed by advocates as both symbolic and substantive. HB 668 will go into effect January 1, 2015, giving time for the transition between departments to occur.

SB 642 CD1 increases the amount of medical marijuana a patient or caregiver can grow and possess. Lawmakers also added a provision requiring that only a patient’s primary care physician can certify them for eligibility, but later clarified that people covered in the Federal system (e.g. military dependents at Tripler) and those seeing specialist physicians will still have access to Hawaii’s medical marijuana program. This measure will also take effect in 2015 – one day later than HB 688.

Representative Della Au Belatti, who advocated strongly for the bills, said: “Today’s bills represent a significant step forward in improving Hawaii’s medical marijuana program and aligning it with best practices of medical cannabis programs in other states.  By refocusing the program on medical matters such as the role of the primary physician and the role of the Department of Health in providing regulation and program oversight, the State can better ensure the compassionate treatment of people suffering from debilitating health conditions.”

The policy shift is part of a serious discussion on the future of marijuana law in the Islands, mirroring reforms happening around the country. Bills to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol and to remove criminal penalties for adult use garnered unprecedented public support and legislative interest and received hearings, but were ultimately shelved until 2014 with no final votes taken.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program enjoys very strong public support. Respected local polling firm QMark Research was commissioned to conduct a statewide, statistically significant poll of 600 Hawaii voters. The poll occurred between November 19 and December 4, 2012. Among its findings:

  • 81% of Hawaii voters support access to medical marijuana by sick and dying people under a doctor’s care.
  • 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana.

Pam Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group, said: “While Hawaii still has important work ahead in updating our medical marijuana program, these bills are a significant first step. The emergence of legislative champions for medical marijuana like Senators Will Espero and Josh Green and Representative Della Au Belatti shows that lawmakers recognize the broad public support among voters. We look forward to working with the 2014 legislature to establish state-regulated dispensaries, and to make additional patient-centered improvements to the Hawaii program.”

Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, added: “In 2000, Hawaii led the nation as the first state to legislatively establish our medical marijuana program. Now, a total of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have programs. Finally, 13 years down the road, Hawaii is moving toward patient-focused policies and away from a law enforcement approach. These bills do not address every concern, but are the first real steps toward a more sensible public policy — we are encouraged and will redouble our efforts next legislative session.”

Patients, doctors and caregivers are urged to join the confidential support network “The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii” founded by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and follow the latest news at www.mcchi.org.

Midweek Magazine profiles Dr. David Barton – “Medical Cannabis: Safe, Effective”

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http://www.midweek.com/medical-cannabis-safe-effective/

A common-sense backgrounder on medical marijuana in Hawaii and the nation. Improvements to Hawaiiʻs law are needed to minimize government intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship and to improve safe access to the medical marijuana program for Hawaiiʻs patients.

“Thankfully, the Hawaii State Legislature took a bold stand more than a decade ago, in the face of great political pressure, which still exists, and allowed for legal use by chronically ill and disabled people.

Chronic pain is the No. 1 medical condition in the United States, with an estimated 75 million to 100 million Americans living with it. At least 20 million to 25 million Americans live with severe pain. In Hawaii, it is conservatively estimated that more than 100,000 live with moderate to severe pain from all causes, including arthritic degeneration, trauma, metabolic conditions such as diabetes, and cancer or its treatment.”