Hawaii Medical Marijuana: Open for Business 1/5/01

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


On December 28th, the last bureaucratic obstacle to the legal use of marijuana for medical reasons in Hawaii fell when regulations approved by Gov. Ben Cayetano a week earlier went into effect (http://swat.state.hi.us/Chapter%2023-202.pdf).

It is still too soon, though, for the first "certified" medical marijuana patient to have appeared, because doctors requesting the certification packets are just getting them in hand. The state Department of Public Safety has not made the certification forms available online -- at physicians' request, it says -- so doctors are waiting for them to arrive by mail.

Still, the date is historic, marking as it does the fruition of Hawaii's unique path to medical marijuana. The Aloha State is the only state to legalize medical use through the legislative process. Eight states have done so by citizen initiative, including Nevada and Colorado, who joined those ranks in the November elections.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that 17 doctors had requested the certification forms on day one.

According to Pamela Lichty, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and a member of the Drug Policy Forum
of Hawaii (http://www.drugsense.org/dpfhi/), doctors are keeping a low profile.

"This is a small place and people are nervous -- decidedly not like California," she told DRCNet. "We don't know of any patient who has been authorized yet, and we don't know who the doctors are who are requesting the forms, except for an ex-board member of ours on the Big Isle, Dr. Bill Wenner."

Wenner has been an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana who recommended it to patients without waiting for the regulations.

According to Keith Kamita, administrator of the Public Safety Department's narcotics division, which will run the program, the operation should run smoothly. After patients pay a $25 annual fee, his office will review the application to make sure the physician is registered and authorized to administer controlled substances, and to make sure the check clears, Kamita told the Star-Bulletin.

"If everything is correct, we can turn an application around in five working days, but the law gives us a leeway of 60 days," he said.

Once approved by Public Safety, patients will receive a temporary license enabling them to legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana, three mature plants and four immature plants, Kamita said.

The role of a law enforcement agency in administering the medical marijuana program gives Lichty cause for concern. Hawaii is the only state to opt for a police agency instead of a health agency to run its medical marijuana program. And despite Kamita's pledge that the program will run smoothly, Lichty tells DRCNet, "The head of the program, Keith Kamita, is the problem since he's hostile to the whole idea. His boss, Ted Sakai, chief of the department, has been very supportive and flexible, but then he was appointed by the governor."

Lichty said medical marijuana supporters will continue to pressure Sakai to ensure that the agency runs the program in good faith. "We've told him people are watching to see how they do since they're the only law enforcement entity in the states involved with medical marijuana."

By press time, Sakai had not responded to an e-mail request for comment from DRCNet.

Other than that, reformers had little to complain about. At public hearings and in conferences, they managed to remove most of the undesirable provisions in the initial proposed regulations in November (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/158.html#hawaiiaction).

"Yes, the rules are pretty good; they took out virtually all of the objectionable parts," Lichty told DRCNet. "Problems still remain with the form for registration itself, which is overlong and very intimidating, with a reference to the fact that it's still illegal under federal law. That's purposefully ambiguous."

But, Lichty wrote, reformers intend to meet soon with Sakai to address those and other minor problems. Whether those final concerns are met or not, legal medical marijuana has come to Hawaii.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #167, 1/5/01 New York Governor Pledges to "Dramatically Reform" Rockefeller Drug Laws, Skeptical Activists Await Specific Proposals | Still Giuliani Time: NYC Marijuana Arrests Go Through Roof While Coke-Snorting Yuppies Catch a Break | Hawaii Medical Marijuana: Open for Business | McCaffrey's Swan Song: ONDCP Releases 2001 National Drug Control Strategy Report | Banned in Boston, DC Says Okay: Marijuana Reform Ads Ride the Metro | Bluegrass Festival Threatens Suit Over Drug Checkpoint | Federal Court Drug-Testing Device Under Fire, PharmChem Sweat Patch May Be "Too Good" | Blue Ribbon New Mexico Advisory Group Issues Recommendations for Drug Policy Reform | Urgent Action: Ashcroft, Clemencies, Hemp | The Reformer's Calendar | Editorial: Talk is Cheap
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]