Action Alert: Hawaii Bill Would Raise Marijuana Patient Fees

HB 1085 HD 1 Relating to Controlled Substances is being heard on Thursday. While there several concerning proposals in this bill, the most important is that it proposes to RAISE the registration fee for medical marijuana patients from the current $25 per year to $35 per year. (The Administration had proposed $50, but this draft reduced that to $35). The bill also changes registration requirements for physicians who recommend medical marijuana.

We are asking that you send testimony in OPPOSITION to raising the fee. Please send by Wednesday. This committee is accepting oral testimony, so if you want to testify in person, send in your written testimony and then attend the hearing.

Two ways to send in testimony:

EMAIL: For comments less than 5 pages in length, transmit to JUDtestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov (include the following information: your name, Judiciary Committee, March 3, 2011, 2:30 p.m., 3 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.)

USE THE FOLLOWING HEADER:

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

From: (your name)

RE: HB 1085 HD 1 Relating to Controlled Substances
Hearing: Thursday, March 3, 2011, 2:30 p.m., Room 329, 3 copies

Position: Opposed

I am testifying today in opposition to HB 1085 HD 1 Relating to Controlled Substances. I am opposed to raising the medical marijuana registration fee. (Then give your reasons for opposing the raising of the medical marijuana registration fee or use two or three of the talking points below.)

I am sure that patients have lots of experiences to report, for instance, how patients have waited 4 months or more to receive their cards, have not been able to get answers from the Narcotics Enforcement Division, etc. We ask that patients write testimony based on their experiences.

TALKING POINTS:

  • The Narcotics Enforcement Division (NED) claims that the current fee does not cover their costs. With 8,000 patients, the office receives $200,000 per year to operate the patient registry. If NED cannot cover expenses with the current fee, it is their responsibility to streamline the application process. They designed the process, they should make the necessary changes.
  • It is unreasonable to require that patients pay for NED’s mismanagement. According to NED’s own annual report, “NED was forced to utilize additional PSD clerical staff, after hours, and at overtime rates to assist in processing the increasing number of medical use of marijuana applications.” Patients should not be forced to pay an increased fee because NED could not manage their personnel and because overtime pay was given to employees.
  • Patients should not pay increased fees when their current needs are not being met. They should not be forced to wait months to receive their cards.
  • Many patients are seriously ill, on disability, and cannot work. They cannot afford increased fees.
  • Before approving any increase in fees, the legislature should require an audit of the “Controlled Substance Registration Revolving Fund, ” the fund that the medical marijuana registration fees are deposited into. According to NED, there is no funding for positions, then what are the fees being used for? NED should be made to account for how the current fees are being used before they are allowed to increase the fees.
  • We are also opposed to changing the registration requirements for doctors who recommend medical marijuana as these changes may make it difficult for doctors to make house calls or see seriously ill patients in locations other than doctors’ offices. This provision is an example of the adversarial position that NED has taken with physicians and is part of NED’s on-going efforts to harass law-abiding physicians. Recent communication from NED has made it clear that their intention is to restrict and interfere with how doctors are able to treat their medical marijuana patients. We ask the committee to remove this change from the bill.

 

Read the bill here:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/Bills/HB1085_HD1_.pdf

Read the hearing notice here:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/hearingnotices/HEARING_JUD_03-03-11_.HTM