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Originally published Jan. 2nd, 2017

We know we can do better. If 10% of the licensed Cannabis patients in Hawaii engaged in direct action, we could save lives in 2017.

How many Cannabis-preventable deaths occurred in 2016? How many will occur in 2017?

There is no legal way to grow Cannabis in Hawaii. The mere act of possessing or consuming Cannabis by a patient remains illegal in Hawaii even with a license. There is no way to purchase Cannabis seeds or starter clones legally in Hawaii.

Healthy Goals for Hawaiʻi Cannabis Patients in 2017 [Updates in Orange]

1. Increase Patient Access to Cannabis Medicine [Success! Plant count increase from 7-10]

The numbers provided by the Hawaii State Department of Health demonstrate an impending shortage of medicine. The unusually small number of licensed dispensaries is insufficient to meet demand. Moreover, Cannabis medicine prices directly impact addiction in our communities. When opiates are more affordable than Cannabis the act of seeking relief results in addiction. To prevent this from expanding as it has in the past, we must take action;

2. Increase Awareness for Healthcare Professionals [Fail – Education law not fulfilled.]

Hawaii law enforcement have pledged to obey Jeffrey Sessions who recently said, “We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no! Don’t do it!” Local law enforcement are backing a man who said in the 1980’s that he thought that “the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he found out some members smoked marijuana.”

“The War on Drugs has been massively devastating to the heart and soul of American society. States are fighting back, by legalizing marijuana and utilizing harm reduction strategies over incarceration. We cannot allow Jeff Sessions to reinvigorate the War on Drugs.” -Drug Policy Forum

It’s easy to spot the unaware and uninitiated in the medical and legislative communities by the words they use. When they call the plant and medicine “marihuana” or they call patients, “users” they are causing harm. [Update – a new law 1488 requires Hawaii state government to refer to Cannabis as “Cannabis” instead of “marijuana”.] However, the department of health have already stated they will not support legislation for Cannabis healthcare and their most recent reports and website continue to use the derogatory term, “marijuana”.

Recently the department of health further clarified their intention when they sent an email to patients and investors which read in part, “About 45 medical marijuana bills have been introduced in this legislative session, but Governor David Ige and the Hawaii State Department of Health believe it is essential for the medical marijuana dispensary program to first be launched and become operational before making modifications to existing laws or introducing new ones. Changes to the existing law may be premature and will divert attention away from the immediate priorities necessary to ensure a dispensary system is underway to serve Hawaii’s eligible patients.” -Hawaii Department of Health

How does treating licensed patients differently from dispensary owners affect our health and economic prosperity?

Dispensary investors were treated to a new law expanding their customer base to allow sales of medicine to licensed patients from other states. In 2018 patients licensed in other states will be allowed to purchase medicine from dispensaries in Hawaii. This doubles the number of customers ie; patients in our islands on any given day. Could this be the reason for delays in opening or is it really the responsibility of those who chose the software vendor? Regardless, dispensaries no longer need local patients to profit from health care.

On the plus side, it’s already much easier to get a license in California. Parents with children suffering from diseases that are not approved by the department of health (lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and autism) cannot access medicine in Hawaii legally but may be able to fly to another state to get licensed in 2018 and return to Hawaii to access medicine. Privacy plays a major role in a parent’s decision to acquire knowledge or medicine.

Employees working for nearly all departments including the department of “Child Protective Services” has access to Cannabis patient health records. CWS and CPS in other states are known for arresting parents and seizing children when they learn the parents are breaking federal law. Parents with Cannabis licenses have told us horror stories about Hawaii CWS involvement in their lives. Labled as drug abusers, parents find themselves choosing between medicine or parental rights.

Hawaii law enforcement lead by Nolan Espinda have already testified this session indicating they would follow the US Attorney General, Jeffrey Sessions who recently spoke to department of safety and local law enforcement officials in Virgina;

“I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana–so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” He continued:

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store … Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

During a youth summit on opioid addiction in New Hampshire this month, he told an audience that, because of such efforts, “people began to stop using drugs. Drug users were not cool.” It wasn’t reported whether any children in these audiences were parents of children of patients.

The educational requirement in HRS 329D has not started. The law reads as follows:

[§329D-26]  Public education.  (a)  The department shall conduct a continuing education and training program to explain and clarify the purposes and requirements of this chapter or to provide substance abuse prevention and education.  The program shall target community partner agencies, physicians and other health care providers, patients and caregivers, law enforcement agencies, law and policy makers, and the general public.

     (b)  The department shall employ at least one full-time staff member whose qualifications and duties include the provision of medical marijuana health education. [L 2015, c 241, pt of §2]

3. Make Patient Participation in the Hawaii MMJ Program a Legal and Private Activity [Fail – A small regulatory infraction eg; improper plant labeling, may still and often does result in criminal prosecution of licensed patients.]

4. Create an Emerging Cannabis Industry with a focus on “Patients Over Profits” [Fail – Any and all benefits for business are limited to 8 dispensary owners. There are no other licensed Cannabis businesses.]

5. Legalize Cannabis for Adult Use [Fail – Cannabis is still illegal for undiagnosed an unlicensed patients.]