In June of 2000, Hawaii passed SB 862 HD1, which made Hawaii the first state whose legislature, as opposed to voter initiative, legalized marijuana for medical use.
In Hawaii once a patient has been issued a valid registry identification card, they are suppose to be legally permitted to grow, posses, transport, and use marijuana for medical purposes. Patients, as well as primary caregivers, are led to believe they have a right to an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution under the state’s marijuana laws.
However in Hawaii county patients complying with the law as written and possessing the state issued “blue cards” are regularly being arresting and prosecuted for as little as 1 gram of marijuana.
The reason patients register is they want to comply and be legal they certainly do not expect to be arrested, but the exact opposite has occurred.
Hawaii county has over 5000 legal medical marijuana card holders. Many of those medical patients in Hawaii county with valid cards and within the legal limits have not only been arrested, and prosecuted, but convicted for promotion of a detrimental drug. In essence the state entrapped them by issuing the license with a copy of the rules and law. The state then denied them the affirmative defense they were led to believe they would get and they were convicted of a drug crime the same as any other person that is caught with marijuana.
Most are arrested for transporting the marijuana and the judges in Hawaii county have upheld that as not covered by the law and have denied them their right to an affirmative defense as allowed by the state law. In my opinion the county police, prosecutor, and judges are not following the state law. Instead trying to inflate their drug arrest statistics and intimidate anyone who has gotten their blue card.
Here is the link to the NED site and what they tell these patients that are being prosecuted by Jay Kimura in Hawaii county
Q) Where Can I Obtain Medical Marijuana?
State law is silent on how a patient obtains his / her marijuana. The State does not
authorize marijuana buyers clubs or recognize any legal source for marijuana to be
utilized for medicinal purposes. The HawaiiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s law states, however, that the Ã¢â‚¬Å“acquisition,
possession, cultivation, use, distribution (defined as only the transfer of marijuana and
paraphernalia from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient), or transportation of
marijuana for medicinal use is specifically protected
Q) What Should a Patient Do If Stopped by the Police and Accused of Possession of
Politely show the officer your medical use of marijuana patient registry card. They may
then contact the Narcotics Enforcement Division to verify your registration and let you
go on your way.
Instead they are being arrested and convicted.
This is finally being challenged in court in a number of cases. Peaceful Sky Alliance, Americans for Safe Access, and Friends for Justice are working to identify patients that have been arrested and trying to help them with information and support. To date most have ended up pleading guilty or no contest because of the cost and threat of consequences for challenging the charges. The state issues them the license with guidelines that specifically allow for transport, but then the county of Hawaii arrest and prosecutes them anyway. While Hawaii county judges deny them their right to an affirmative defense as outlined in the state’s law.
Additionally, physicians are protected against any kind of punishment for advising a patient about medical marijuana or providing a patient with a signed statement allowing them to be included in the state’s medical marijuana registry.
There have been a number of bills to reform Hawaii’s laws that have passed in recent years only to be vetoed by Governor Lingle after Hawaii county police and prosecutors teamed with other departments to actively lobby against any reform at all.
With the new administration of Neil Abercrombie we may finally after 10 years see some relief and reform to Hawaii’s laws. There are a number of groups and individuals working on a variety of new legislation for the next legislative session.
ASA provides information on Hawaii’s medical marijuana law here.
Currently the Hawaii state medical marijuana law does not provide any method for patients to receive medical marijuana. There is no place in the State of Hawaii to legally purchase medical marijuana. Qualified medical marijuana patients cannot go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marijuana.
Patients or their caregivers are allowed to grow medical marijuana only for the patient’s private use, but makes no provisions for a supply or source.
Under the law, the physician must work with the Narcotics Enforcement Division, which oversees the medical marijuana program. Unlike most other states, HawaiiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s medical marijuana program falls under the state Department of Public SafetyÃ¢â‚¬â€the people who run law enforcement, prisons and jailsÃ¢â‚¬â€not the state Department of Health.
The states program is headed by Keith Kamita of the NED under the Deapartment of Public Safety. He at times travels around the state of Hawaii doing a presentation that list the doctors who issue medical marijuana in order of number of recommendations in a further attempt to intimidate them IMO.
The Narcotics Enforcement Division takes an adversarial view of a program it administers. Its control of the program has been scary for both patients and physicians.
Keith Kamita, the chief of the NED has been quoted publicly as saying Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ask for it, . Kamita has become the face of the law enforcementÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side of the program
Many physicians do not participate, for fear of legal repercussions., thus the ones that do tend to have a great many patients.
While the NED administers the medical marijuana program, enforcement also falls to HPD. It, too, polices a program it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think should be legal. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HPD is against the legalization, decriminalization and medicinal use of marijuana, said Maj. Susan Dowsett, who heads the Honolulu Police Department Narcotics/Vice Division when she was interviewed on the subject.
HPD doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t receive funding to enforce the medical cannabis program, but it does get $100,000 to $250,000 annually for marijuana enforcement and eradication.
Dr. Charles Webb, A physician from the Big Island who participated in the Medical Cannabis Working Group, and helped draft the HMA rescheduling resolution. Recently was quoted saying Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never saw a hospitalization from marijuana.” Dr.Webb, who was an emergency room physician for more than 30 years also said Ã¢â‚¬Å“The most dangerous thing [about marijuana] is being arrested.
To further intimidate patients in June 2008, the NED sent the Hawaii-Tribune Herald, a Big Island newspaper, information on 4,200 medical marijuana patients inducing names and addresses. They claimed it was an accident but put in context of the other action we have seen that claim is rightly questioned in the outing of the medical patients.
Dr Baiko another Big Island doctor wrote a letter published by Peaceful Sky Alliance. Here are some exerts.
N.E.D. Officer Keith Kamita is apparently giving public presentations in which he questions the motivations and integrity of patients who use medical cannabis and the physicians who certify their eligibility to do so. This news is consistent to my personal dealings with Mr. Kamita, who has expressed to me his suspicions that physicians are certifying patients that are not truly qualified by the law, at least as far as the law Ã¢â‚¬Å“originally intended. He implied that he would be scrutinizing the medical cannabis card applications we submit and stated that it would be a Ã¢â‚¬Å“good idea for us physicians to elaborate on our patientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s condition in the Ã¢â‚¬Å“comments section of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“PhysicianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s certification (Page 3 of application). He actually stated that he hopes to avoid pursuing RICO charges against physicians.
Mr. KamitaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presentation confirms that he is collecting data to build cases against physicians (and perhaps patients too.) No wonder he wants us cannabinoid friendly physicians to elaborate on our patientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conditions. He is looking for diagnostic patterns in our certifications to argue that we are breaking the law repeatedly. However, Mr. Kamita is neither professionally nor intellectually qualified to analyze our diagnoses or judge us or our patients based on any medical information submitted to the N.E.D. or otherwise. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a police officer.
I find it disturbing that his presentation singles out physicians who certify medical cannabis patients. It would be telling to know whether he makes such presentations citing which physicians prescribe the most Oxycontin or Hydrocodone in the state, publicly questioning their professional integrity. The N.E.D. is certainly privy to such information along with the birth date information required with prescriptions for controlled substances. But state law (HRS 329: Uniform Controlled Substance Act) does not require diagnostic justification in such prescriptions. In fact, no where in HRS 329 does it state that physicians are required to provide diagnostic justification (i.e. Ã¢â‚¬Å“for pain or Ã¢â‚¬Å“for AIDS, etc.) for providing written certification for the use of medical marijuana for qualifying patients.
See more here
Sen. Will Espero established the Medical Cannabis Working Group after Gov. Linda Lingle refused to convene a medical marijuana task force, even though it had been approved by the Legislature. The group released a report in February detailing statewide program recommendations. Last legislative session, about 20 bills were introduced to expand the programÃ¢â‚¬â€none passed.
Here in Hawaii, there were other bills relating to Medical Marijuana considered by the state legislature last session.
You can see them here.
In the mean time Hawaii county along with the state continue to intimidate even arrest and prosecute those least able to defend themselves medical marijuana patients. Using intimidation to try and prevent most people from actually applying for a license then harassing, arresting and prosecuting those that do. And its getting worse as we saw recently.
According to an August 20 report in the Hawaii Tribune Herald,
Hawaii NED chief Keith Kamita told the Tribune-Herald that 59 residences on the Big Island were investigated for medical marijuana permits.
The police were actually landing helicopters in peoples yards that had no marijuana without permission or search warrants to go check people that registered as patients. If that is not a violation of the law what is.
It was confirmed that local police were involved in the raids, in possible violation of Hawaii CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Lowest Police Priority Law, making 24 plants and 24 ounces the lowest priority offense on the Big Island.
The confiscation of Ã¢â‚¬Å“excess marijuana in combination with no arrests might lead a casual observer to question whether state narcotics police may be testing the Ballot One law. ”
There is no patient doctor confidentiality under the current law. The program needs to be moved to the state department of health where it belongs.
Here are some links to another patients story of police abuse and theft from him in Hawaii county. This officer was not prosecuted but patients are routinely prosecuted while in full compliance.