Action Alert: Medical Marijuana Patients Can Save SB 1458

Hawaii Senate Bill 1458 SD2, which creates medical marijuana compassion centers was heavily amended last week by the House Committees on Health and Public Safety.

A hearing has now been scheduled for Tuesday, March 22.  The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii is calling for testimony on the compassion center bill, encouraging testimony in “support of the Senate version.”  Testimony in support of the bill is needed by Monday.

Here is an outline of the current (House) version of the bill:

  1. Reducing its scope to only include licensure for one compassion care center on the island of Maui as a five-year pilot program;
  2. Allocating all fees collected to the County of Maui;
  3. Requiring all food and other consumables sold on licensed premises to be regulated by DOH and the federal Food and Drug Administration;
  4. Requiring the compassion care center to maintain photocopies of all filled prescriptions in a database available for review by law enforcement;
  5. Establishing a 30 percent tax on medical marijuana products sold under the pilot program to be deposited into the general fund;
  6. Requiring the compassion care center to be responsible for costs incurred for security and requiring a live video feed of its operations to be provided to law enforcement;
  7. Requiring the compassion care center to be located no closer than 600 yards of any day care facility, preschool, or public or private school;
  8. Prohibiting the use of medication on the premises of the facility;
  9. Prohibiting medication from the compassion care center from being transported out of Maui County;

You can submit testimony one of two ways:

EMAIL: For comments less than 5 pages in length, transmit to JUDtestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov, with a transmittal cover indicating:

Your name, and the following information: “Judiciary Committee, March 22, 2011, 2:00 p.m., Room 325, SB 1458 SD2 HD1 Relating to Health, 2 copies.”

WEB: For comments less than 4MB in size, transmit from the Web page at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony. (If you use this method, please write a sentence or two in the additional comments box, and please be sure to write “I prefer the senate version of the bill.”)

Example:

To: Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Chair
Rep. Karl Rhoads, Vice Chair and
Members of the Committee on Judiciary

From: Your Name

RE: SB 1458 SD2 HD1 Relating to Health
Hearing: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 2:00 p.m., Room 325, 2 copies

Position: Support Senate Version

I am writing today in support of the Senate version of this measure.
—Write your reasons for wanting the compassion centers. It is always a good idea to use your personal experiences. Testimony should stress that the bill needs to be (more) responsive to patient needs.  It’s important to list the things that matter to you, such as…

  • The pilot project does not help patients on the other islands, it also does not establish a long-term solution to the problem of obtaining medical marijuana from a legal source.
  • There is sufficient experience with compassion center models in other states to draft sensible regulations and implement a full program. A pilot program in not necessary.
  • Establishing compassion centers solves a gray area in the law that established the current medical marijuana program.
  • Patients still want to retain the right to grow their own medicine or have a caregiver do it. The dispensary should not be the only option.
  • Inter-island transportation needs to be clarified (as does transportation in a motor vehicle).
  • 30% excise tax is unreasonably high, and will eventually means patients will pay higher prices for their medicine, while other prescription medicines are not taxed at all.
  • Patients need a consistent and reliable source of medicine now, they should not be forced to wait five more years. The most urgent need according to most patients and the Medical Cannabis Working Group is the establishment of a legal, safe, and reliable source for their medicine.
  • Although current law allows patients to grow their own plants, the law is silent as to where patients should acquire seeds or clones to start their supply. Even more confusing is that the Department of Public Safety has said that the only legal transfer of marijuana is between a registered patient and that patient’s registered caregiver. Caregivers are difficult to find and they are currently limited to assisting only one patient.
  • Compassion centers are necessary because many patients want a legal, reliable and safe source for their marijuana. Many patients are unable to grow their own medicine because some live in apartments or condominiums; others live in areas where their plants are not secure and are subject to vandalism or theft; others are just too sick to provide the care needed for their plants to grow to maturity.
  • Patients are law-abiding citizens who want to remain law abiding and should not be forced to go to neighborhood drug pushers for their medicine.
  • Compassion centers would also fill a need for patients who may not know how to use vaporizers or make infused-products on their own.

 

 

 

Jeanne Y. Ohta is the Executive Director of Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

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