Hawaii

Medical marijuana by state.

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Hawaii

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Aug 31, 2006 3:15 pm

The Maui News wrote:Medical marijuana, tax reform fall short of ballot

By ILIMA LOOMIS, Staff Writer
The Maui News
August 30, 2006

WAILUKU – A charter amendment on property tax reform and an initiative on medical marijuana are dropping out of the race to be considered by voters in this November’s general election.

Tony Fisher of the Committee on More Equitable Taxation said his group had not been able to collect enough signatures for the tax reform measure to be added to the ballot in 2006. He said the organization would aim instead for the 2008 elections. COMET’s proposal had involved changing the way the county calculates property tax assessments, and making other reforms to the tax system.

“We decided to stop the process,” he said. “We were close, but not that close.”

Brian Murphy director of Maui County Citizens for Democracy in Action, which is involved with medical marijuana advocacy, said his group reached a similar conclusion.

“We’ve already missed 2006,” he said. “We’re shooting for 2008.”

Initiatives and charter amendments faced a Sept. 8 deadline to be submitted to the state Office of Elections. But the county clerk needed to receive them 15 days before that deadline for processing.

Murphy said his group was considering filing a complaint against the Maui County Clerk’s Office over “hurdles” he felt improperly hampered the signature-gathering process.

Officials with the County Clerk’s Office said COMET had submitted a total of 3,426 signatures on its petition, of which 2,427 had been accepted as valid. Fisher said his group had collected around 6,200 signatures in all.

COMET members needed to have 15,498 signatures, or 20 percent of the registered voters in the last general election, in order to bypass the Maui County Council and have their proposal added directly to the November ballot.

Alternatively, they could gather 7,748 signatures to force the County Council to hold a hearing on their proposal at any time. But the council already voluntarily debated the COMET proposal earlier this summer and rejected it.

COMET had been proposing that Maui County base tax assessments on a property’s sales price, not on its estimated market price as is the current practice. The proposal also would involve a cap on how much tax bills could increase or decrease from year to year.

A second effort for a ballot proposal involved Citizens for Democracy in Action, which was attempting to place an initiative to change the County Code. An initiative involves a different standard. The group would need 8,301 signatures of registered voters, or 20 percent of the number of people who actually voted in the last mayoral election, in order to move its proposal forward.

Murphy said his group had gathered around 7,000 signatures to date.

Citizens for Democracy in Action was proposing to create a system under which farmers could legally lease a “garden plot” and provide assistance to medical marijuana patients to grow their own plants. A second proposal would call for Maui police to not enforce drug laws for people caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.

The County Council already has voted to place three proposed charter amendments on the ballot this November. The proposed amendments would:


Split the county Department of Public Works and Environmental Management into two departments.


Dedicate 2 percent of property tax revenues to an affordable housing fund.


Set a six-month window for filing notice of a legal claims for damages against the county as allowed by state law. The current county law allows two year.

County Clerk Roy Hiraga said he believed both COMET and Citizens for Democracy in Action could apply the signatures they already have collected to getting their proposals on the ballot in 2008. But he said county officials still were trying to determine whether the number of required signatures would change.

Since the requirement is based on a percentage of people who voted in the last election, it may have to be recalculated based on the 2006 voter numbers, he said.

“That’s still an open question,” he said.


Ilima Loomis can be reached at iloomis@mauinews.com.

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Pot user cites police threats

Postby budman » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:37 am

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote:Pot user cites police threats

Police search a home on the Big Island but make no arrests

By Rod Thompson
rthompson@starbulletin.com
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
September 19, 2006

KAILUA-KONA » A Big Island religious and medical marijuana user, the Rev. Dennis Shields, says he was "intimidated and terrorized" by police serving a search warrant for marijuana on his South Kona property Friday.

No arrests were made. Police Maj. John Dawrs said courts issue search warrants only when there is probably cause and the only way to see if there is evidence of a crime is to execute the warrant.

Arrested for marijuana in 1994, Shields argued freedom of religion, saying marijuana was a sacrament in his faith, called the Religion of Jesus. He was convicted on the grounds that marijuana was not required in his religion. Since then, his church made it a requirement.

Shields also holds a state-issued card verifying he is a medical marijuana user.

The Friday raid followed two recent police helicopter overflights of his property in which 24 marijuana plants were visible on his porch, Shields said.

Shields said his wife and two of his grown sons live on the property, and all four hold medical-marijuana cards. Since state law allows seven plants per card holder, up to 28 plants would be legal, he said.

When police arrived, they wanted to see the cards of other family members who weren't present, Shields said. He told them he had no copies of their cards because copying the cards is illegal.

Shields told police to call a state registry to verify card holders at the property. After apparently doing so outside his hearing, police left, he said. They should have checked before coming, he said.

They also made incorrect statements about the law, saying medical users can't have hashish, and each plant has to have an individual's name on it. Dawrs confirmed that hashish is allowed, and names are not required on plants.

In 2004, John and Rhonda Robison of South Kona received $30,000 in settlement of a wrongful-arrest lawsuit after officers arrested them for not having names on medical marijuana plants.


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Jonathan Adler Dies at the Age of 54

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:11 pm

KGMB9 wrote:Posted: October 19, 2006 10:15 PM

Jonathan Adler Dies at the Age of 54

KGMB 9


A long time advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana has passed away on the Big Island. Jonathan Alder died on Monday at his home in Mountain View. His family says he suffered a series of heart attacks over the past year and a half.

Adler founded the Hawaii Institute of Medical Marijuana and ran for governor in the 2002 election before dropping out after being sentenced to prison for drug charges. He was 54 years old.

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Marijuana advocate known for legalization antics

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:55 pm

The Star-Bulletin wrote:JONATHAN HOWARD ADLER / 1952-2006

Marijuana advocate known for legalization antics

By Leila Fujimori
lfujimori@starbulletin.com
The Star-Bulletin
October 21, 2006

Big Island resident Jonathan Howard Adler, a colorful proponent of marijuana, died at the Hilo Medical Center from a heart attack Monday at age 54.

The California-born Adler lived in Mountain View and devoted his life to legalizing marijuana. He ran for governor four years ago and was convicted that same year for commercial promotion of marijuana. He formed the East Hawaii Branch of the Religion of Jesus Church and founded the Hawaii Institute of Medical Marijuana.

"I admired his courage and ingenuity in being an activist for cannabis as religious sacrament and for healing medicine," said Roger Christie, who created the Hawaii cannabis Ministry of the Religion of Jesus Church.

Adler's antics included dressing as a Drug Enforcement Agency helicopter pilot with mirrored sunglasses while testifying before the Legislature, Christie recalled. "He had a good sense of humor and had a great heart for his passion," he said.

But Aaron Anderson, a member of another cannabis church, Church of Realized Fantasies, said Adler was detrimental to the cause.

"Jon had a lot of passion for what he was up to, but he never quite got traction with his constituents," he said. "He had a way of putting people off. You could tell he was sincere, but overkill."

Adler ran for governor in 2002, but lost in the Natural Law party primary to comedian Kaui "Bu La'ia" Hill.

In June 2002, Adler was convicted for federal commercial promotion of marijuana for possessing 89 marijuana plants in 1998, but his name appeared on the ballot since the law only forbids convicted felons from filing to run for office and he had filed to run three months before his conviction.

During the trial, Adler was seen going out in the hallway to smoke pot.

Adler's attorney Michael Green said, "He created lots and lots of enemies, and maybe did some good for people that were sick."

When he first met Adler, Green was skeptical about his convictions. "But the more I knew him, I really started to believe that this guy really thought it served a purpose for a lot of people," Green said. "His motives were sincere.

"He took lots of heat and ... was willing to sacrifice everything for what he says he believed in."

Daughter Joy Adler-Jewitt said her father was a warm, loving person.

"He was an outstanding father," she said. "We are the luckiest family in the world. As a father he was always there."

Adler is survived by wife Nuansawat "Nuan"; sons Jonathan J. "JJ" Jr. and Jett J.; daughters Joy A. and Jacaranda R. and Juniper M. Adler; father Seymour; brother Mitchell; sister Lisa; and a grandchild.

Services are scheduled at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Dodo Mortuary. Call after 1 p.m. Casual attire. No flowers.

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Fewer register to use medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 16, 2007 12:09 pm

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Fewer register to use medical marijuana


By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

<table class=posttable align=right width=260><tr><td class=postcap>
<center>HAWAI'I MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW</center>

Under the law, a person must be certified by a physician to use marijuana for a "debilitating" medical condition. The certificate allows the patient to have up to three mature, flowering marijuana plants, four immature plants and an ounce of usable marijuana for each mature plant. The certificate must be renewed each year.
</td></tr></table>After five years of rapid growth in the number of patients certified to use marijuana for medical purposes, enrollment in the state registry dropped sharply last year for the first time since medical marijuana was legalized in 2000.

The number of people registered with the state and certified by a doctor to have debilitating conditions that qualify them to legally use marijuana dropped by almost 22 percent during the past 10 months, according to statistics supplied by the state Department of Public Safety.

Keith Kamita, who oversees the program as administrator of the department's Narcotics Enforcement Division, said people continue to sign up, so he doesn't see the decline as any indication that patients are having trouble getting certified.

"I think there's a lot of people who try it and then don't go back to it," Kamita said.

Pamela Lichty, president of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i, said it's unclear why the number of registered medical marijuana patients is dropping, but the causes may include a lack of publicity for the program in recent years or fewer doctors who are willing to certify patients.


<table class=posttable align=center width=450><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/hawaii_patients.gif></tr></td></table>

The forum, an organization that promotes a public health approach to drug- and substance-abuse issues, has been urging state lawmakers for years to move the medical marijuana program out of the Department of Public Safety and into the state Department of Health.

Lichty said she will resume that effort in the state Legislature this year because her group believes Public Safety, which enforces laws prohibiting illegal drugs, is the wrong agency to oversee the legal use of marijuana by people who are ill.

Moving the program will encourage more people to use the program and also ease the anxiety of physicians who are asked to certify patients, Lichty said.

The Public Safety Department and Kamita are responsible for overseeing physicians' authority to write prescriptions to ensure there is no abuse, she said.

"He is kind of an overseer of physicians' behavior, and so they're not crazy about the idea of dealing with him," she said.

MOST ON BIG ISLE

More than half the people certified and registered with the state to use medical marijuana are on the Big Island. That, Lichty said, suggests O'ahu doctors aren't aware of the potential benefits of marijuana and aren't familiar with the legal protections under the program.

Under the program, a doctor must certify that the patient has a qualifying medical condition such as cancer, AIDS or glaucoma, and that the doctor believes the potential benefits of medical marijuana use would likely outweigh the patient's health risks.

Kamita said doctors face no risk of enforcement action from his office for certifying patients under the law as long as the doctors do not actually prescribe marijuana or give marijuana to their patients.

With more than 2,000 patients certified and registered by doctors statewide, Kamita said he doubts doctors have a problem dealing with his agency and said the program should stay where it is.

Kamita said he believes specialists in Honolulu rarely certify patients for marijuana use because those specialists are prescribing other, more effective drugs.

FEW TAKERS

One organization that established a clinic on Queen Street specifically to certify patients who are eligible for medical marijuana use has found relatively few takers.

The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, which also operates clinics in Oregon, Washington state and Colorado, saw only about 200 patients in Hawai'i in its first year of operation, said foundation executive director and founder Paul Stanford.

"Things have gone a bit more slowly than we would have liked," but the organization began radio advertisements in recent weeks to let more people know about the clinic, Stanford said. He said the clinic also began seeing patients in Hilo because there was demand there.

SEEN AS BUSINESS

Stanford said he believes relatively few people sign up from O'ahu because it is impractical for many people to grow their own marijuana for medical use. He said that is less of a problem on the Big Island, where more people live in rural settings.

Kamita said some doctors on the Big Island are involved in certifying patients for medical marijuana use "strictly as a business." He cited one Big Island physician who is responsible for certifying 897 patients, or more than half the people certified on the Big Island.

Kamita declined to identify the doctor but said he believes there should be a cap on the number of patients any single physician can certify. That will help ensure the patients get appropriate follow-up care, he said.

"If you have 897 patients, I'm wondering how much interaction you are having with the patient," Kamita said.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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Convicted Felon Busted for Pot Plants

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:11 pm

KGMB 9 wrote:<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/velasco_richard.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>A certificate let Velasco act as caregiver for a patient who smoked medical marijuana.</td></tr></table>Posted: January 26, 2007 07:22 PM


Convicted Felon Busted for Pot Plants

Jim Mendoza - jmendoza@kgmb9.com
KGMB 9 News


A Big Island man is in federal custody tonight, indicted on charges he was growing marijuana plants for profit. Law enforcement says Richard Velasco was a drug dealer hiding behind the medical marijuana law.

The rap sheet against Richard D. Velasco is a lengthy piece of paper with several arrests and 22 prior convictions.

"This guy was profiting. This guy was drug dealing. And he was hiding behind this certificate," said U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo.

The certificate let the 49-year-old Velasco act as caregiver for a patient who smoked medical marijuana.

"An individual like Mr. Velasco should never have had an opportunity to grow marijuana for himself medically or for someone else," Big Island police chief Lawrence Mahuna said.

In 2004, Big Island police arrested Velasco for growing 246 pot plants. Four months later, he got his caregiver's certificate. In 2005, he was busted with 612 marijuana plants. A short time later police seized 222 plants from his home. A caregiver can only grow seven plants per patient.

"Under Hawaii state law it does not preclude a person who has a criminal conviction for a controlled substance to be a caregiver or even a patient," State Narcotics Chief Keith Kamita said.

Law enforcement says fault lies with the medical marijuana law. It wants it changed to stipulate caregivers have a clean record for controlled substances.

"Something is wrong with that picture and, in my belief, it makes the law a farce," Kubo said.

Right now law enforcement has no mechanism to monitor caregivers who operate behind the scenes.

"It's not the caregiver that decides who they're going to be watching," Kamita said. "It's the patient who selects the caregiver."

Hawaii has more than 2,609 medical marijuana patients and 249 certified caregivers. Feds say Velasco slipped through a loophole that needs to be closed.

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Feds Say Medical Marijuana Law Has Loophole

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:58 am

I find this disturbing. Many, if not most, LEGITIMATE medical marijuana patients have felony convictions for marijuana. I do. Being convicted of a felony, and learning what that really means, is about the only reason anyone would get involved in the movement. And still is.

And my observation is that people who don't need cannabis don't care for it. And everyone I've met that uses it habitually is using it medicinally, whether they realize it or not.

What this looks like to me is a very mean spirited attempt to take cannabis away from the people who need it most, and who have sacrificed the most to have it.

Their goal is (obviously) to ban anyone with a felony from being a medical marijuana patient. That is what they mean when they say 'the program'. And these are the people that need it most. It is prohibition through the back door.

KHNL 8 News wrote:<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 title="Ed Kubo" src=bin/kubo_ed.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap align=center>U. S. Attorney Ed Kubo</td></tr></table>
Feds Say Medical Marijuana Law Has Loophole

<img src=/bin/icon_video.gif> <a class=postlink href=http://www.khnl.com/global/video/popup/pop_player.asp?ClipID1=1198328&h1=Feds%20Say%20Medical%20Marijuana%20Law%20Has%20Loophole&vt1=v&at1=News&d1=1151733&LaunchPageAdTag=News&activePane=info&playerVersion=1&hostPageUrl=http%3A//www.khnl.com/Global/story.asp%3FS%3D5997578&rnd=14680206 target=_blank>Feds say Medical Marijuana Law has Loophole</a>

Jan 27, 2007 04:36 AM PST

KHNL 8 News
By Darren Pai

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The US Attorney's office said a Big Island man tried to use the state's medical marijuana law to hide a drug trafficking operation.

Federal investigators said Richard Velasco applied for a medical marijuana caregiver's certificate in 2004, despite having a felony drug conviction on his record.

"How can it be that he is then given a caregiver certificate by the state," said Ed Kubo, US Attorney.

Last month Velasco was indicted by a federal grand jury for cultivating marijuana plants. Investigators found 222 marijuana plants when they searched his home in September of 2005.

"How can it be that once someone is issued a caregiver certificate, that this certificate cannot be reviewed or revoked after being arrested or convicted of a drug trafficking offense," Kubo said.

Velasco faces a sentence ranging from ten years to life in prison if convicted of the federal marijuana charge.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 title="Rep. Tommy Waters" src=bin/waters_tommy.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap align=center>Rep. Tommy Waters</td></tr></table>Investigators said the case is proof some are taking advantage of a loophole in the state's medical marijuana law.

"The obvious absence of state regulations to prevent known marijuana cultivators and traffickers from abusing the medical marijuana law only serves to shield their illegal activities."

Federal and state investigators want to amend the law to prevent convicted drug offenders from participating in the program. Some state lawmakers said they're willing to hear them out.

"I'd be happy to help the U.S. Attorney clean up the loophole, or tighten up the loophole," said Rep. Tommy Waters, House judiciary chairman.

Waters noted the legislature may need to look for creative ways to address the issue.

"My impression is there's not a bill currently introduced to do exactly that," Waters said.

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Medical Marijuana Laws Under Fire

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:30 pm

KITV 4 Honolullu - The Hawaii Channel wrote:KITV 4 The Hawaii Channel

Medical Marijuana Laws Under Fire

<span class=postbigbold>Federal Prosecutor Wants Tighter Laws</span>

POSTED: 11:22 am HST January 27, 2007
UPDATED: 11:26 am HST January 27, 2007

HONOLULU -- The Hawaii law that allows marijuana for medical use has come under attack again from Hawaii's top federal prosecutor.

Ed Kubo said the law helped a major supplier of illegal pakalolo avoid prosecution.

KITV4 News reporter Daryl Huff reported that Saturday was the opening salvo in the legislative debate over medical marijuana in Hawaii.

Supporters hope to liberalize the law, while law enforcement wants to tighten it up.

Richard Valasco's role as a certified marijuana caregiver ended when police found more than 600 marijuana plants at his home.

"This guy was profiting this guy was drug dealing. He was hiding behind this certificate," said Kubo.

Law enforcement said the existence of legal medical marijuana patches make it harder to identify and crack down on illegal growers.

"We have to ensure that that caregiver is not in compliance with the law," said Hawaii County Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna.

Velasco got his medical marijuana caregiver certificate despite a history of drug crime, so the state wants the power to do criminal background checks for caregivers who are allowed to grow up to seven plants for patients.

Velasco now faces 10-to-life in federal prison and is still technically eligible for a certificate.

Medical marijuana advocates said patients and doctors are already intimidated.

"We think making it more and more law-enforcement-oriented is going to frighten away more and more people," said medical marijuana advocate Pamela Lichty.

Advocates want the law liberalized by allowing caregivers to grow for up to three patients and having it run by the State Health Department instead of the Drug Abuse Enforcement Division.

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U.S. seeks to tighten medical pot law

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:51 pm

The Honolullu Advertiser wrote:Posted on: Saturday, January 27, 2007

U.S. seeks to tighten medical pot law


By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Honolullu Advertiser

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcap align=center>
HAWAI'I MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW
</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>Under the law, a person must be certified by a physician to use marijuana for a "debilitating" medical condition.

The certificate allows the patient to have up to three mature, flowering marijuana plants, four immature plants and an ounce of usable marijuana for each mature plant. The certificate must be renewed each year.

Under the program, a doctor must certify that the patient has a qualifying medical condition such as cancer, AIDS or glaucoma, and that the doctor believes the potential benefits of medical marijuana use would likely outweigh the patient's health risks.

Source: Hawai'i Revised Statutes

</td></tr></table>The case of a convicted felon who cultivated hundreds of marijuana plants under the guise of a medical marijuana caregiver was cited Friday by federal officials seeking to amend the state's medical marijuana law to allow for background checks and greater oversight.

U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said the December indictment of Richard D. Velasco, a 49-year-old Big Island man who was arrested three times between 2004 and 2005 for cultivating more than 200 marijuana plants, is an example of the need for increased scrutiny of people applying to grow or use medical marijuana.

"Of particular concern to me is that approximately four months after his arrest for this drug-trafficking offense in December 2004, Mr. Velasco applied for and was granted a caregiver certificate under the Hawai'i medical marijuana law. No background checks, criminal or otherwise, were conducted in order to review the worthiness or propriety of providing anyone with a certificate to become a caregiver in Hawai'i," said Kubo. "As I understand the law, even though he (Velasco) has been convicted on two state drug-trafficking offenses, there is nothing which will prevent him from re-applying for and obtaining another caregiver's certificate to dispense marijuana. There needs to be adequate procedures in place to allow for background checks, inspections, monitoring and reviews so that this law is not a farce."

The state law should be amended to permit for policing, oversight, criminal and other background checks and random inspections of caregivers, he said. Criminals with drug or felony convictions should be prohibited from acting as medical marijuana caregivers.

"We're not interested in investigating the sick and the dying," said Anthony D. Williams, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Honolulu district office. "But we will continue to investigate and pursue anyone cultivating and distributing marijuana."

Hawai'i became the eighth state to allow marijuana use for medical purposes in 2000, and today there are 249 licensed caregivers in the state and 2,609 medical marijuana patients.

In 2006, following five years of rapid growth in the number of patients certified to use marijuana for medical purposes, enrollment in the state registry dropped sharply for the first time since medical marijuana was legalized.

The number of people registered with the state and certified by a doctor to have debilitating conditions that qualify them to legally use marijuana dropped by almost 22 percent during the past 10 months, according to statistics supplied by the state Department of Public Safety.

Velasco, of Fern Acres, has five criminal convictions. He was arrested Jan. 16 and is in custody at the Federal Detention Center. His trial is set for March 20 in front of U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway.

He was indicted Dec. 21 on two counts of "knowingly and intentionally manufacturing marijuana, to wit: the cultivation of 100 or more marijuana plants," according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court.

Because Velasco has a felony drug conviction, if convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in jail and up to life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In August 2004, Velasco was arrested after Hawai'i County police officers discovered 246 marijuana plants growing on his property. In December of that year, Velasco applied for and was given a medical marijuana caregiver certificate, allowing him to have up to three mature, flowering marijuana plants, four immature plants and an ounce of usable marijuana for each mature plant.

The certificate must be renewed each year and permits the holder to grow and cultivate marijuana for one patient.

In February 2005, Velasco was arrested again after officers found 612 marijuana plants, some as tall as seven feet high, growing on his property.

Seven months later, Velasco was arrested again after officers found him growing 222 marijuana plants.

Velasco was caregiver to an unidentified medical marijuana patient who elected to terminate his relationship with Velasco following his arrest.

"An individual like Mr. Velasco should never have the opportunity to grow marijuana," said Lawrence Mahuna, chief of the Hawai'i County Police Department. "I hope the state sees the need to fill the glaring gap in the law."

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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Big Island police make major drug seizure

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:51 pm

The Honolulu Advertiser wrote:Updated at 3:11 p.m., Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Big Island police make major drug seizure

Advertiser Staff The Honolulu Advertiser

HILO, Hawai'i — Big Island police seized more than 75 pounds of marijuana and other drugs on a raid of a Volcano ranch yesterday that police said dismantled a major hashish manufacturing and marijuana farming operation.

Acting Lt. Steven Correia said the raid was the largest seizure of dried marijuana and hashish in recent memory, and may be the largest ever for the Big Island police department. Police estimated the value of the drugs at $500,000.

Vice officers executed a search warrant at the 29-acre ranch on Amaumau Road and found three indoor growing operations.

Seized from the ranch were 199 marijuana plants ranging from seedlings to 3 feet tall, and 75.65 pounds of dried marijuana.

The dried marijuana included 127 individually vacuum-sealed 1-ounce packets that were labeled with prices ranging from $280 to $300.

Officers also seized two pounds of processed hashish and equipment used to manufacture hashish. Also seized were 18.8 grams of psilocybin mushrooms and 59 methadone pills.

Police arrested a 64-year-old man at the scene, and the man's 60-year-old wife later turned herself in to authorities.

Police said the husband has a valid medical marijuana permit that entitles him to grow up to seven marijuana plants as a caregiver for another person.

Husband and wife were both being held in the Hilo police cellblock while police consult with federal authorities on whether the pair should face federal prosecution.


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No need for stricter law on marijuana caregivers

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:01 pm

Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote:
<table class=posttable align=left width=110><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/miller-richard-s.jpg></td></tr></table>No need for stricter law on marijuana caregivers

Richard S. Miller
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Vol. 12, Issue 31 - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

<i>Editor's note</i>: Big Island resident Richard Velasco, 49, a certified caregiver and grower of medical marijuana, faces federal charges for allegedly growing 222 marijuana plants. The current charges stem from a September 2005 case.

U.S. ATTORNEY Ed Kubo might be a nice guy, but his ignorance of and well-known opposition to Hawaii's medical marijuana law is appalling, and his call for an amendment to the law to require a background check for those granted a caregiver certificate under Hawaii's medical marijuana law (Star-Bulletin, Jan. 27) is a bit hysterical.

There is nothing -- repeat, nothing -- in Hawaii's medical marijuana law that affords protection to a caregiver growing more than 200 marijuana plants. Instead, the law errs seriously on the other side, providing that a caregiver can assist only one patient and sharply limiting the amount of marijuana that the caregiver and his or her patient, together, can possess. Indeed, the only role of a caregiver under the law is to grow or possess the limited amount of marijuana allowed and to provide it to the qualified patient. That's it!

And, as Kubo well knows, federal law provides no protection whatsoever to the caregiver, whether or not he complies with the limited requirements of Hawaii's medical marijuana law.

As your article correctly noted, Hawaii law says: "Every primary caregiver shall be responsible for the care of only one qualifying patient at any given time. ... The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient shall be permitted only if ... (t)he amount of marijuana does not exceed an adequate supply. An 'adequate supply' shall not exceed three mature marijuana plants, four immature marijuana plants, and one ounce of usable marijuana per each mature plant."

There is no need for a background check of medical marijuana caregivers simply because they receive no protection whatsoever under state law if they exceed the adequate supply limit or if they otherwise violate the law. The law says that the primary caregiver may assert the medical use of marijuana as an affirmative defense to any prosecution involving marijuana only if the primary caregiver strictly complied with the requirements of this law, including the limits described above on what is an "adequate supply." Being a caregiver under the law gave Richard Velasco no privileges to do anything but furnish a limited amount of marijuana to a single qualified patient, and provided him no protection against prosecution for exceeding those limits. Indeed, he was evidently successfully prosecuted under state law and is now being prosecuted again under federal law.

So where is the so-called "loophole?"

Rather than adding new punitive and unnecessary provisions to our existing law, as Kubo recommends, we should take full cognizance of current science that marijuana can be effective in treating pain and other debilitating conditions and move the administration of our medical marijuana program out of the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Department of Public Safety -- which intimidates physicians and patients and inhibits them from participating in the program -- to the Department of Health, where it belongs. This is what House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 905, bills currently before our Legislature, will do. They also are designed to provide absolute protection from successful prosecution under both federal and state law to physicians who do no more than provide the certification required by our medical marijuana law.

I urge readers to call their legislators and ask them to support HB 300 and SB 905 to make more available to our fellow citizens who suffer terrible, debilitating conditions the beneficial effects of marijuana when used for medical purposes.

<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Richard S. Miller is a professor emeritus and former dean
at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii.
This column reflects his personal opinion.</small></center>

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$1M bail for man arrested in raid

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:33 pm

The Honolulu Advertiser wrote:
<table class=posttable align=left width=110><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/finley-david.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>David Cother Finley Jr</td></tr></table>
Posted on: Thursday, February 1, 2007

$1M bail for man arrested in raid


By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
The Honolulu Advertiser



HILO, Hawai'i — Bail was set Wednesday at $1 million for a 64-year-old Volcano man who was arrested this week during a raid that turned up three indoor marijuana growing facilities and equipment for manufacturing hashish.

Deputy Prosecutor Jason Skier requested the unusually high bail because David Cother Finley Jr. had an airline ticket for a trip he planned to take to Mexico this weekend. Skier said Finley posed a flight risk.

District Court Judge Barbara Takase imposed the high bail until the court can hear additional arguments in a District Court hearing Friday in connection with the case.

Finley was charged with 16 drug counts after the raid Monday on the 29-acre ranch he owns on Amaumau Road.

Police seized 199 marijuana plants ranging from seedlings to 3 feet tall, along with more than 75 pounds of dried marijuana and 2 pounds of processed hashish.

Also seized were hashish manufacturing equipment, nearly 19 grams of psilocybin mushrooms and 59 methadone pills, police said.

Police said some of the marijuana was parceled into 127 individually vacuum-sealed, 1-ounce packets labeled with prices ranging from $280 to $300.

David Finley has a valid medical marijuana permit, which entitles him to grow up to seven marijuana plants as a caregiver for another person.

Police estimated the value of the seized drugs is at least $500,000, and described the ranch as "a major hashish manufacturing operation and marijuana cultivation site."

Finley is charged with promotion of a harmful drug, three counts of commercial promotion of marijuana, two counts of promotion of a dangerous drug, two counts of promotion of a detrimental drug and eight counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Finley was arrested at the ranch, and his 60-year-old wife later turned herself in. Finley's wife was later released pending further investigation, police said.

<small>Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.</small>

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American Gothic body double

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:04 pm

<table class=posttable align=right width=360><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=/bin/american-gothic_small.gif></td></tr></table>

<table class=posttable width=106><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/finley-david.jpg></td></tr></table>

While I was commenting about the absurditiy of Finley's 100 little pounds being the bigest bust in Hawaii, I realized that if you gave him a pitch fork and put a wife by his side, he would look just like the guy in American Gothic. Amazing, isn't it?
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Medicinal marijuana, cell phone reported stolen in robbery

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 24, 2007 7:20 pm

The Maui News wrote:Medicinal marijuana, cell phone reported stolen in Kihei robbery

The Maui News
Friday, December 21, 2007 9:38 AM



KIHEI – Police are investigating a robbery reported by a Kihei man who said his medicinal marijuana and a cellular telephone were stolen after four males entered his residence Tuesday night.

The robbery occurred between 7:30 and 8 p.m. at the house on East Waipuilani Road, said Lt. John Jakubczak of the Criminal Investigation Division.

The 25-year-old resident was with a friend when the unknown males entered, he said.

While one male shoved the friend against a wall, the two others approached the resident, Jakubczak said.

One assailant reportedly held a long steel tool, which he used to hit the resident on the ground.

The males left after taking the phone and more than 1 ounce of the resident’s medicinal marijuana, Jakubczak said.

The friend drove the resident to the Maui Memorial Medical Center emergency room, where he was treated for a laceration to the side of his head and possible concussion before being released.

The resident had a state medical marijuana permit, Jakubczak said.

Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call Maui Crime Stoppers at 242-6966. Callers remain anonymous and are given a code number.

Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of people responsible for felony crimes.
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Medical Marijuana Farm Pitched for Maui

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:10 pm

KHON2 Fox wrote:
Medical Marijuana Farm Pitched for Maui

KHON2 Fox
By Gina Mangieri
January 31, 2008

Medical marijuana could be grown in industrial settings if a bill in the legislature goes through.

Allan Dougherty is a medical marijuana patient in support of the effort. The 84-year-old veteran says marijuana eases the chronic aches in his foot and ankle.

"I take a couple of hits of pot and I forget all about the pain," Dougherty said. “It's great. I enjoy it, and that's the bonus, you enjoy it.”

The state's 4,047 certified patients are permitted to use what they grow -- and in limited amounts.

"The time it takes to grow these plants is inevitably going to be harmful to the patient," said medical marijuana patient Joseph Rattner.

But that could change. A proposed bill would establish a secure growing facility on Maui on several acres, and patients could lease land cultivated by what the draft calls a “certified facilitator.”

"The whole idea is to give an adequate and safe, secure location for parents to get their marijuana," said Brian Murphy, on whose land the proposal would allow the farm.

If it works in the test location, lawmakers and proponents say it could be expanded to other growers.

"Our agricultural farmers [could] help take care of getting the medicine for these patients," Murphy said.

"This can be very beneficial to the state,” said Rep. Tom Brower, (D) Waikiki. “We can be a world leader with this medicine, and also I believe this will help with the hemp industry."

The bill's backers know it won't sit well with federal, state and county authorities, but they're asking for cooperation.

"We need the support of law enforcement,” Brower said. “This can be done. I don't believe this medicine would be abused any more than other medicines."

Lawmakers say allowing the marijuana farm would help move users off black-market goods.

"The state legislature is now going to step forward to make a difference for these folks,” said Rep. Joe Bertram, (D) Maui, “to tighten up our medical marijuana laws."

State authorities say the farm would violate federal law.

Other medical marijuana bills would increase the amount a patient can possess, and give public employees drug-test protections if they hold a medical marijuana registration certificate.



Story Updated: Jan 31, 2008 at 7:55 PM HST
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Lawmaker addressing medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:26 pm

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote:
Lawmaker addressing medical marijuana

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
By Helen Altonn
haltonn@starbulletin.com
February 1, 2008

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/bertram_joe.jpg alt="State Rep. Joe Bertram (D, Makena-Kihei), left, talked yesterday about medical marijuana bills he is introducing."></td></tr></table>Although marijuana for medical purposes is legal in Hawaii, patients authorized to use the plant are being hassled by law enforcement agencies and others, said Maui Rep. Joe Bertram III.

The major problem is patient access to marijuana, a gray area in the seven-year-old law, Bertram (D, Makena-Kihei) said yesterday, announcing legislation to "tighten it up with better management."

One of his measures (House Bill 2678), being heard today by the House Health Committee, would authorize the state Department of Health to develop a secure growing facility on Maui for medical marijuana. A facilitator would make space available to patients or caregivers for a total of as many as 98 plants at one time.

A second bill, HB 2675, would allow a qualified patient to use marijuana for medical purposes with written certification from another state instead of a certificate from Hawaii's Department of Public Safety.

Keith Kamita, chief of the state Narcotics Enforcement Division, which administers the medical marijuana law, said a growing facility would violate federal law.

Also, because the bill mandates the DOH to control the facility, he said in an interview, "Now it's a state agency sanctioning marijuana. Say there's a bad batch and people die or get sick, the state would be liable for distributing a contaminated product."

Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance, with no medical use allowed under federal law, and growers would have to obtain a research permit from the federal and state governments, he said.

Kamita also noted that more marijuana is showing up in schools, possibly because of its use for medical patients. "Kids can go see Grandpa and go see a harvest. We've just got to be very careful with this."

He said the problem with recognizing certification from another state for a person to use medical marijuana is that each state could have different qualifying conditions and rules.

Twelve other states have legalized marijuana, he said. "Our main concern is the differences between those states and Hawaii. There would be no way for law enforcement to verify the validity of that certificate (from another state)."

As of Wednesday, Kamita said, 4,047 Hawaii patients had received medical marijuana cards, and 368 caregivers and 124 physicians are participating in the program.

Joining Bertram at a news conference at the Capitol were Alan Doherty, a Big Island disabled veteran; Joseph Rattner, diagnosed with HIV 15 years ago; and Brian Murphy, executive director, Maui County Citizens for Democracy in Action and Patients Without Time.

Doherty, 84, said he comes to Honolulu at times for treatment at Tripler Army Medical Center and brought some marijuana with him on a recent trip because of pain in an injured foot.

It was seized at the airport, and six months later Hawaii County prosecutors charged him with transporting a detrimental drug, he said. He received a six-month suspended sentence and is on probation, he said.

He said the law restricts use of marijuana to a person's own house. "You can't take it or get it any place. I certainly hope that will be corrected so we can get our medical marijuana without all this hassle."

He said county prosecutors and the police "ignore marijuana as a medicine. They consider it to be a detrimental drug. That is a bad misnomer."

Rattner, president of West Hawaii Hope for a Cure Foundation, said growing marijuana "is a science in Hawaii," and a seriously ill person is not able to grow his own medicine.
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House Discusses Bill to Grow Medical Marijuana on Maui

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:01 am

KHNL 8 wrote:
House Discusses Bill to Grow Medical Marijuana on Maui

Updated: Feb 1, 2008 05:39 PM PST

By Tracy Gladden

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Patients with a certificate to use medical marijuana have to grow it themselves or take part in illegal activity to acquire the plant.

Friday, the State House discussed a proposed bill to have a secure growing facility for medical marijuana on Maui.

Hawaii's medical marijuana law passed in 2000 and some believe it has flaws.

The law remains silent as to how patients actually obtain the marijuana leaving people like Iggy in a sticky situation.

Iggy has a medical marijuana certificate."It leaves this huge grey area, I'm allowed to have it, but where am I gonna get it from so it's kinda forcing patients to go on the black market," he said.

Keith Kamita is the Chief of Narcotics Enforcement for the Department of Public Safety. "In Hawaii we have 4,047 patients using the medical use of marijuana program that's run out of the narcotics division," he said.

Some of those patients grow their own marijuana plants, which can be a dangerous situation. Iggy said, "I got robbed, there's a machete at my front step and all we want is some protection."

Iggy says it would be safer for him and other certificate holders if a secure space was provided on maui to grown medical marijuana.

"What were afraid of as law enforcement is that your opening the door to a buyers club like what California has where they are already having problems with the Federal government coming in and arresting these buyers clubs," Kamita said. "Regarding the violations or the conflicts with Federal law, I cannot see this bill passing."

The bill calls for one million dollars in state funds to run a medical marijuana growing facility.

Under Hawaii's medical marijuana law, once a patient has been registered to use the substance, they are legally permitted to grow, possess, transport and use marijuana for medical use only.
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Marijuana Farm Could Help HIV Positive

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:25 pm

KHON 2 Fox wrote:Marijuana Farm Could Help HIV Positive

KHON Fox 2
By Olena Rubin
February 10, 2008

Hawaii became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes…a bill before state lawmakers could potentially secure a facility for patients to grow their plants.

The bill would require federally regulated areas for patients to grow marijuana plants without fear of being arrested.

Joseph Rattner, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 15 years ago, has a regimented medication program of more than 25 pills a day, and he smokes medical marijuana 4 times daily.

“It’s not about getting high it’s about feeling hungry I don't feel high when I smoke and I don't go outside to get high,” Rattner said.

In November of last year he was hospitalized for 3 weeks

“I came out and I was 100 pounds. Reason being I couldn't swallow I couldn't drink I couldn't eat,” Rattner said.

Rattner says side effects from the medication make him nauseas, causes severe mouth and throat pain.

“When you’re in pain and when you’re not comfortable and I am talking pain and I am sitting here and I feel good,” Rattner said.

Rattner is licensed to grow and smoke marijuana to treat his medical condition, but...

“Medical marijuana is a problem certification wise in Hawaii because it’s hard to grow,” Rattner said.

He also fears for his safety because of his access to the drug.

“I am worried about people breaking into my house I am worried about somebody hurting my parents,” Rattner said.

Because of all these reasons...Rattner supports a bill to expand Hawaii's current marijuana law to include a facility where patients can grow marijuana plants.

But some law makers are concerned about the security of such a facility.

“If people can smuggle things into a prison, is there a possibility that people can smuggle something out of a marijuana facility,” Senator Willie Espero said.

Opponents of medical marijuana say the plant has no medical benefits and violates federal law. A decision making hearing on the proposal will be held before the House Health Committee on Wednesday morning.

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Pot Proposals Deserve Serious Attention

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:56 pm

The Hawaii Reporter wrote:Pot Proposals Deserve Serious Attention From Hawaii Lawmakers

The Hawaii Reporter
By Paul Armentano, 2/19/2008 10:03:19 AM

Expect a number of state lawmakers to get up front and personal with pot this year. Nearly a dozen marijuana reform bills are pending before legislators in 2008. Several of them merit serious consideration.

House Bill 2067: HB 2067 and its companion bill in the Senate (SB 2547) seek to enact necessary legal protections for qualified patients using medical cannabis in accordance with state law. Specifically, this bill would amend existing limits regarding the amount of cannabis patients may legally possess and grow, prevent employers and landlords from discriminating against medical cannabis patients, and impose legal liability on law enforcement officials who improperly seize cannabis from state-authorized patients.

These changes have been requested by Hawaii's patient community to address their legitimate needs and maintain compliance with state and local laws. Passage of HB 2067 will protect patients, better clarify relations between the patient and law enforcement communities, and will increase the participation of physicians in Hawaii's medical marijuana program.

House Bill 2673: HB 2673 seeks to protect those medical marijuana patients in the public workforce who may be subjected to random (non-performance based) drug testing. Under current law, state-authorized patients may be penalized or even terminated by their employer for their off-the-job use of medical cannabis. Passage of HB 2673 would grant these patients the same legal protections already afforded to employees prescribed other prescription medications -- including oral THC (aka Marinol) -- and would not jeopardize on-the-job safety or performance.

House Bill 2677: HB 2677 seeks to limit the criminal prosecution of adults who possess small amounts of cannabis in the privacy of their own home. Specifically, this bill would encourage local police to establish a policy that sets private adult marijuana offenses as the "lowest priority for investigation, citation, and arrest." (Offenses that involve distributing marijuana to minors, distributing or consuming marijuana in public places, or operating a motor vehicle, airplane, or watercraft while under the influence of pot would continue to be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law.) Similar 'deprioritization' policies have been enacted in several metropolitan areas -- including Oakland, California and Seattle, Washington -- and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

For instance, according to a just-released report by the city of Seattle, passage of the city's 'deprioritization' law has not led to any "evident increase in marijuana use among youth and young adults; no evident increase in crime; and no adverse impact on public health."

Additionally, the report cites numerous societal benefits stemming from the new law, including "fewer adults experiencing the consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system due to their personal use of marijuana; and a ... reduction in the amount of public safety resources dedicated to marijuana possession cases and a corresponding ... increase in availability of these resources for other public safety priorities.” Passage of HB 2677 would arguably result in similar fiscal and societal benefits for Hawaii without endangering public safety.

For more information on these and other pending marijuana law reform measures, please visit NORML's "Take Action" center at: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/ or visit the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii at: http://www.dpfhi.org

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC. He may be contact via email at mailto:paul@norml.org

HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com

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Debate Continues Over Changes in Hawaii's Medical Marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:40 pm

KHNL News 8 Honolulu wrote:
Debate Continues Over Changes in Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Law

KHNL News 8 Honolulu
Updated: March 18, 2008 10:24 PM PDT
By Paul Drewes

Image Debate Continues Over Changes in Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Law

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's a tempest over pot as lawmakers debate changes in Hawaii's Medical Marijuana law.

Patients want to preserve their rights to use what they see, as a vital medication.

The meeting over medical marijuana begins on a light note.

But Representatives and supporters of this drug that is legal for some, quickly got down to the serious business of problems which affect some patients legally allowed to light up in the islands.

"Its very distressing cause these are sick people."

Some claim individual's rights are going up in smoke, because the law is not enforced equally around the state.

"Out on maui, people are being robbed by police under the cover of the law."

The Maui Police Chief was not available to comment on departmental policy. But in earlier testimony, Chief Thomas Phillips stated Maui Police do "not believe in supporting the Medical Marijuana Program in its entirety."

"It's a freaking state law they have to respect state law."

Joe Rattner has seen firsthand what cannibis can do.

"Without it I would have died. Without it I would be dead."

He has also seen what happens when patients' supplies run out and there are no options.

"I was 102 pounds and I needed a blood transfusion for weeks and I came out and I have smoked everyday since and I've gained 40 pounds."

He and others are pushing for the current measure that would fine tune Hawaii's Medical Marijuana laws by looking at whether patients have an adequate supply, and would also see if safe growing centers can be developed on each of the islands.

The current measure at the State Capitol would allow patients to bring pot with them, just like any other medication, as they travel interisland.

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Create system for distributing medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:04 am

The Star-Bulletin wrote:Create system for distributing medical marijuana

The Star Bulletin
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 20, 2009

MEDICAL patients who rely on marijuana to ease pain won a major victory this week in protection promised by the Obama administration. Attorney General Eric Holder said threatened federal interference with laws in Hawaii and a dozen other states allowing medical use of marijuana has come to an end. The state should work toward a system facilitating that legitimate use.

As former President Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft ordered raids of medical dispensaries in California that provided marijuana to patients legally under that state's law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the federal government may prosecute medical users of marijuana for violating federal drug laws despite state laws permitting that use.

The ruling upholding the Bush administration's zero-tolerance policy has had little effect in states other than California, because most drug cases are prosecuted at the state level. The issue has not reached federal courts in Hawaii.

From now on, Holder told reporters that the policy will be "to go after those people who violate both federal and state law, to the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law. Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target."

More than 1,000 residents have been registered with the state to use marijuana to treat their illnesses since the state legalized it for that use in 2000. Certification by a doctor is required for registration, and patients are limited in the amount of marijuana they may possess. Marijuana is credited with easing pain for those suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

Registered patients have complained about the difficulty in obtaining access to marijuana or even seeds or facilities to grow their own. In November, police arrested seven Maui residents accused of using medical marijuana laws as a front for drug trafficking. The group maintains that the marijuana was to be distributed to 300 members of Patients Without Time who are qualified to use it medically.

A bill introduced by Rep. Joe Bertram of Maui that would allow operations for growing marijuana for distribution to as many as 14 patients has been endorsed by two state House committees in the current session. The Lingle administration has opposed the bill, citing the Supreme Court decision upholding the federal law banning any possession of marijuana.

The Obama administration's decision to exempt marijuana for medical purposes from the sweeping federal ban should cause the state to reconsider its stance on a secure distribution system like that proposed by Bertram. Without such a system, the Hawaii law allowing medical use of marijuana would continue to be crippled.

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Number Of Medical Marijuana Patients Soars

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:04 pm

KHON2.com wrote:Number Of Medical Marijuana Patients Soars

Reported by: Andrew Pereira
KHON2.com | 12 Nov 09


Since Hawaii's medical marijuana law was passed nine years ago the number of registered patients has skyrocketed.

According to figures released by the Department of Public Safety, 255 patients were registered to legally use medical marijuana in fiscal year 2001. But by fiscal year 2009 that number had grown to 5,190.

As of June 30 the Big Island had the most medical marijuana patients with 3,160 people registered. Maui came in second with 1,092, followed by Oahu with 691.

Kauai had 208 registered patients while Molokai had 34 and Lanai only 4.

Supporters of the medical marijuana law believe the number of registered patients would be even high if access to the drug were made easier.

Unlike California which allows medical marijuana dispensaries, Hawaii patients are forced to grow their own or buy it illegally.

“What's missing in the Hawaiian law is where do we go to get it,” said Joe Rattner, an HIV patient who smokes marijuana to increase his appetite.

Under the Hawaii statute registered patients are allowed to have three mature marijuana plants on their property, four immature plants and three ounces of usable marijuana.

Rattner was having some success growing his own plants until his backyard was broken into and the would-be thief or thieves tore out his landscaping. Rattner’s mother is now forced to buy the drug illegally.

“You send people like me to the streets to try to find marijuana because it's saving my son's life,” said Lila Rattner. “And I will do what I have to do to keep him alive.”

Joe Rattner is part of a legislatively approved working group hoping to create non-profit marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. Rattner has the support of a key lawmaker.

“Whether something like that could be implemented immediately or would have to take a couple of years we'll have to wait and see,” said Sen. Will Espero, chair of the Public Safety Committee.

A bill which would have allowed the Department of Health to create marijuana dispensaries was shelved during the last legislative session, but could be revived during the upcoming session in January.

“Whether we have any of the votes to make it happen I cannot say at the moment,” said Espero.

Have a news tip? Contact Andrew Pereira at 368-7273.
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