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Talking Points: HCR74 / HR51

Below are a few talking points that may be helpful in preparing written or oral testimony about HCR74 and its companion bill HR51. For help on how to submit online testimony, click here.

Recommended Address:

House Committee on Judiciary
Rep. Karl Rhoads, Chair
Rep. Sharon Har, Vice Chair

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
4:00 PM

Conference Room 325
State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street

Strong Support – HCR74/HR51 – Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Central message:

This resolution paves the way for a dispensary system in Hawaii.

As it currently stands we have a system where it is legal to have marijuana, but it is illegal to get it. Sick people have to buy their medicine on the black market and this is not the intent of the law. This resolution will help develop a system of dispensaries so that the very sick do not need to get their medicine on the black market.

In greater depth:

The current system in Hawaii is such that all medical cannabis patients are required to grow their own medicine. This works well for some patients but excludes many people:

  • People who don’t have the strength, or skill to grow their own marijuana.
  • People who rent and don’t have the space, or are forbidden from growing marijuana by their rental agreement.
  • People who don’t have time to grow their own medicine because they are sick when they come to Hawaii or become sick and need treatment immediately.

A dispensary system would also allow for a greater degree of quality assurance.

  • Patients would be able to trust that the medicine they were buying is what it is supposed to be.
  • Medicine could be tested, labelled and regulated.
  • Some strains that are good for specific conditions would be easier to access. Strains that are good for nausea aren’t always the right thing for patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, for instance.

The current system is forcing patients to buy their medicine on the street. This is is a cruel way to treat the very sick. 85% of Hawaii’s voters agree that we need a dispensary system in place.

How to submit online testimony

If you want to submit testimony for a bill that is scheduled for a committee hearing, here is what to do:

testimony steps 1 and 2First, visit the capitol website by clicking here. If you have not yet signed up for an account, you should click “Register” in the top right corner and enter your email address in the form that it presents. If you have an account, Click “Sign In,” (labelled step 1) and enter your email and password on the next page.

Then, return to the page of the bill that you wish to testify for. Click the “Submit Testimony” button (labelled Step 2).

This will give you a form that you can use to testimony formenter your personal information and testimony. You can either enter your testimony into the box labelled “comments” or you can hit the button marked “Browse” to upload a document from your computer. This is preferable you have time.

The recommended format for these documents is as follows:
• At the top of your testimony, include: 1) Name of the committee; 2) Names of the  committee chair and vice-chair; 3) Date and time of the hearing; and 4) Hearing room
• Identify the bill and your position on the bill
• Include a salutation to the committee
• Introduce yourself in the first paragraph

Example (from our friends at Community Alliance on Prisons):

Good testimony is both personal and specific. The best approach is to tell the committee how the bill they are considering will affect you. On the bill tracking feature of our website we will have a few helpful talking points if you need them, but try to put them in your own words and speak from the heart.

Mahalo for your support.

How to write to your legislators

At this point in the legislative session, most of our bills have been referred to their first committees. The next step is to encourage legislators to give them hearings, and to develop a relationship (if you don’t already have one) with your legislators, so that when you testify or ask for their support on a specific bill, your name rings a bell.

1. Find out about them:

One of the most important things to do before writing your legislators is to find out a few key pieces of information about them. You need to find their names, their addresses, and crucially what committees they sit on or chair. The easiest way to find out this information is to visit the hawaii capitol w1ebsite here. Then, in the upper right corner, you will see a search bar that says, “enter street name.” As shown in the screen capture. Enter your street name (not your address) into this box and hit enter.

 2

This will take you to a page that looks like this. It will show a list of all of the streets in the state that share a name with yours. Find your street on the list, and it will show you both your senator and your representative. Their names are links to a page that has all of the information you will need, and looks something like this image. M3ake a note of their name, address, and committee membership, or keep this page up while you write your letter.

2. Write a letter or email:

Right now we are just opening a conversation that will last for the length of the legislative session. The ideal letter in this case is short, no more than a page. It is best to be both personal and polite. The most important things to convey to your legislators are:

  • You are their constituent. Mention this specifically in your letter or email rather than saying that you are a voter or taxpayer. Legislators pay about 10 times more attention to letters from constituents than to letters from other people according to the electronic frontiers foundation. Tell them you are their constituent and include your address to back it up.
  • You are informed. Address your legislators correctly: The Honorable (Senator’s name) or The Honorable (Representative’s Name). Address (at the state capitol). Dear Senator (Name) or Dear Representative (Name). Use these addresses even when sending an email. Explain that you hope for their support from a specific committee. If they are on any committees that currently have any of our bills, mention them by name.
  • You are personally involved. Tell them your personal story. Your legislators are used to getting stacks of form letters requesting support for SB472. Tell them why this issue is important to you, and why it is important now.

Here’s a brief template that you can use if you find it helpful:

The Honorable Senator Suchandsuch
Hawaii State Capitol Room 123

Dear Senator Suchandsuch,

In this paragraph explain that you support progressive drug law reform, and that you are a constituent. Mention any specific bills that are before their committees by name.

In this paragraph, explain your personal story, why you feel that marijuana laws are wrong on a personal level. Try to avoid general statements.

In this paragraph, thank the legislator for their attention, and tell them that you hope to discuss the issue further with them as legislation progresses.

Sincerely, (Or Mahalo or Aloha)

Your Name

3. Start a dialogue.

Don’t let one email be the last of it. When bills come up for hearings, reply to your legislator’s replies to this email. That way they can see that they have a relationship with you, and can be reminded that they must take you seriously because you are an informed, connected constituent.

Big Island Talk Stories Covered in Tribune-Herald

web1_Medical_Cannabis_Talk_Story_CWhether or not you had the chance to attend this past weekend’s talk story sessions in Hilo and Pahoa, you may be interested in reading the excellent piece covering them in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. We thank the Tribune Herald for being so understanding of our privacy concerns about pictures and recording, and for helping to spread the word about how important it is to all of us in Hawaii that we make progress in marijuana reform this legislative session.

Petition Obama to Remove Marijuana from the DEA’s List of Drugs

You may have heard about Obama’s recent statements that marijuana is safer for individuals than alcohol. Our friends at the Marijuana Policy Project have put up a petition for president Obama to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. Their reasoning is simple: If it’s safer than alcohol, treat it as such. Please show your support by spreading this petition, and of course, by signing it yourself. Mahalo.

House Speaker Joe Souki Mentions Need for Dispensaries in Opening Remarks

Today was the opening of the Hawai`i state legislature’s 2014 session. It has been A wild day at the state capitol with protests, snacks, poi and punch in abundance. One of the most memorable occurences, however, was a moment in the middle of house speaker Joe Souki’s opening remarks. He said:

“Recently, there has been much news about other states legalizing the use of marijuana. While I am not suggesting we go that route, Hawaii does permit the limited cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes. In spite of that, there are no dispensaries or places where you can legally buy cannabis even with a prescription.  I think we need to fix that gap in the law before we talk about anything else.”

While some readers will be disheartened to hear that Mr. Souki doesn’t think that we should go that route, his statement may hint that the legislature is warming to the idea of dispensaries, which our coalition considers the number one legislative priority.

Read the rest of Speaker Souki’s remarks here.

Drug Policy Forum Speaks to KITV About the Need for Dispensaries

Visit the KITV site to see a video.
Pamela Lichty and Teri Heede, a medical Cannabis Patient, talk to KITV about the upcoming legalization in Colorado, and about how the laws in Hawaii may change in the coming years.

In Hawai’i despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal for patients like Teri who rely on it in order to manage their pain, there is no legal way to get marijuana. Patients must grow their own or ask a “caregiver” to grow for them. Caregivers can only grow medicine for one patient at a time. Hopefully though, this will be changing soon. According to Pamela Lichty, “A dispensary is really a crying need. Many of the more than 10,000 patients are asking for it as their number one ask.” Hopefully, Colorado signals a shift in attitudes about Marijuana that will lead to a more just and more reasonable system in Hawai’i.

Why a Veteran is on a Mission to Make Cannabis Available to Those Suffering from PTSD

perry_parks_interviewThis story comes to us from alternet. Perry Parks, who you may remember from the documentary The Good Soldier, wants to provide access to medical cannabis for the 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with symptoms of PTSD.

While 20 states and Washington D.C. have medical cannabis programs, only a handful recognize PTSD as a qualifying affliction. Read the full article to see what Parks has been doing to help change this.

Welcome to the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawai’i (“MCCHI”)!

MCCHI is your support group–a free, private group for medical cannabis patients and caregivers – shaped by your needs. Listen, learn, network, and share best practices with others from around Hawai‘i and know that you are not alone!

Join MCCHI (itʻs free and confidential) to:

  • Stay informed about the latest developments in Hawaii’s medical cannabis program,  including proposed changes or threats to existing law.
  • Learn how you can help expand the medical cannabis program, and fight back dangerous restrictions.
  • Share best practices with other patients, caregivers and doctors.
  • Access information on the latest medical cannabis laws and research in Hawai‘i and from around the world.
  • Receive a yearly reminder via email, phone, or mail–whatever works best for you–when your medical cannabis registration is due to be renewed.
  • Have the opportunity to amplify YOUR voice to ensure that the medical cannabis program effectively serves the people of Hawai‘i.