Category Archives: news

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

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

money lock

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.

See WHATS IN THE SPENDING BILL

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.

DOH MM prgm logoDEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
DAVID IGE
GOVERNOR
KEITH YAMAMOTO
ACTING DIRECTOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Dec. 2, 2014

QUALIFIED MEDICAL MARIJUANA USERS URGED TO RENEW THEIR CERTIFICATION BEFORE DEC. 12, 2014

BLACKOUT PERIOD PLANNED FROM DEC. 12 – 31

AS PROGRAM TRANSITIONS TO HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
 

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.

 

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

Dr. Sanjay Gupta reverses position on MMJ, upcoming special: Weed

Watch the special, “Weed” on Sunday, 8/11/13: http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2013/08/05/gupta-weed-promo.cnn

 

Read the article: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

In a stunning and personal reversal of his long-held skepticism of the health benefits of cannabis, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN apologizes for spreading “misinformation” and supports real, independent research on medical cannabis.

“I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.”

“Looking forward, I am especially intrigued by studies like those in Spain and Israel looking at the anti-cancer effects of marijuana and its components. I’m intrigued by the neuro-protective study by Lev Meschoulam in Israel, and research in Israel and the United States on whether the drug might help alleviate symptoms of PTSD. I promise to do my part to help, genuinely and honestly, fill the remaining void in our knowledge.”

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.