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.

Prestigious medical journal releases poll, reveals broad support by physicians for medical marijauna

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMclde1305159

The New England Journal of Medicine poll results released May 30, 2013 shows that 76% of U.S. doctors in the U.S.,  78% of doctors worldwide, would personally prescribe medical marijuana to a hypothetical female patient with incurable cancer.

“Physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on our responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering. Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana.”

Hawaii justices reject conviction of cannabis user

Breaking story by the Honolulu Star Advertiserʻs Ken Kobayashi (sorry, it is behind a paywall…will post more links as other news sources also cover the story):

“The Hawaii Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Hawaii island medical marijuana user who was found with a small amount of cannabis at Kona Airport.

Geoffrey Woodall had a valid medical marijuana certificate but was still convicted under state laws for the two grams of marijuana discovered when he went through airport security screening.

In a 4-1 ruling Friday, the justices held that a conflict in state laws on the issue must be resolved in favor of Woodhall.

The majority said he must be acquitted.”

http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20130601_Hawaii_justices_reject_conviction_of_cannabis_user.html?id=209773721&id=209773721&c=n

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.”

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.