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Monday, February 02, 2015
HB321: Marijuana on the Move in the Legislature
By Selected News Articles @ 8:42 PM :: 1947 Views :: Drugs
 

Fast-tracked

From Horns of Jericho Blog, February 2, 2015

In an effort to curb dissenting public testimony, House leaders have begun fast-tracking marijuana legislation in hopes that opposition groups will not have time to organize. Last Friday, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki reduced the number of public hearings that HB321 (relating to medical marijuana) would receive by re-referring the bill.

The latest move flies in the face of Saiki’s promise to make government more accessible and transparent. Instead of improving access, Saiki has regressed to the politics of deceit and subterfuge that colored his first two years as majority leader.  The re-referral now places the bill before a joint committee hearing where the House Judiciary committee will defer to the judgment of the Health Committee. [1]

This re-referral comes on the heels of a one-two punch where legislative leaders seek to expand the definition of marijuana to include many concentrated and dangerous derivatives of the narcotic. Under the guise of ‘medical marijuana’, these highly-concentrated derivatives would be legal for recreational use should the Legislature also pass legislation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

At the end of last Friday’s hearing, House Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads alluded to a special Saturday hearing to be held regarding selected bills regarding marijuana. It is a rare instance when a House committee opts to hold a hearing on a Saturday that most working individuals can attend. These Saturday hearings are few and far between, and are only held as part of a dog-and-pony show to pander to a political base. [2]  While he works closely with supporters to schedule a hearing where marijuana supporters can turn out en masse, concerned parents are left in the dark.

Despite how these parents feel about marijuana and medical marijuana, and all evidence to the contrary, the Legislature continues to dismiss their concerns.  Legal dispensaries already exist for the top three most abused substances by minors [3].  Creating dispensaries for marijuana will ensure that the drug goes to the top of that list. In fact, medical marijuana supporters like the Drug Policy Center of Hawaii admit that, for the same reasons as marijuana, crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) should be legalized. [4]  Because medical marijuana supporters are indistinguishable from recreational marijuana advocates, it can I easily be assumed that the issue at hand is not the health and well-being of patients, but only increased access to the narcotic.

Yes, liberal Democrats have taken a page from big tobacco companies.  But will they pay a multi-billion dollar settlement for the social ills created by their deception?

Signs point to ‘no’.

  *   *   *   *   *

Insanity Defined

From Horns of Jericho Blog, February 5, 2015

With HB321 scheduled for a hearing on Saturday, February 7th, legislators are poised to repeat the same mistakes as other jurisdictions as they prepare to create a production and distribution network of marijuana under the guise of “compassionate care for medical patients”.  However, the bill is riddled with so many flaws, the fast-tracked legislation looks more like a “first draft” than the “finished product” that they want the public to believe it is.

The distribution system proposed by twenty-three legislators creates a system whereby a medical marijuana patient can obtain their “prescription” from any one of a number of dispensaries.  A Kakaako resident could go to their friendly neighborhood dispensary for their prescription, then drive out to Aiea to fill their prescription again.  There are no safeguards built into this system to prevent a medical user from stockpiling enough marijuana for their friends, their neighbors, and even the kids down the street at the local high school.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Limits on the amount of marijuana a medical user can have are to ensure that a medical marijuana industry does not overproduce.  Whether it is legal or not, marijuana in excess of the needs of users finds an outlet on the street.  While laws currently in force limit medical users to having 4-ounces on hand, there is no law enforcement or government agency that is actively enforcing this and ensuring that there is no excess supply.

The lack of any tracking or enforcement systems in the proposed production and distribution system creates a marijuana free-for-all for users both medical and recreational.  HB321 places a single full-time employee in charge auditing and oversight of all thirty expected production centers and the minimum of twenty-six dispensaries to be located in the state.  Access for recreational users will certainly improve with the lack of oversight.

The State of Colorado has made many mistakes in their rush to implement their recreational marijuana program and dispensaries.  These mistakes are detailed in a sunset review.  Consider that only 5% of all facilities in Colorado are registered with the state, despite laws to the contrary.    Legally and illegally produced marijuana are indistinguishable – they look the same, and they smell just as bad.  Once it is bought, there is no way for law enforcement to tell the difference either.

The net result is de facto legalization of marijuana. Legislators assume that people follow the law just because it exists.  They assume that medical users follow the law to the “T”.  That these same users do not share their prescription – that they do not share some with a friend at a dinner party.  Or that they do not share it with the kids down the street at the high school because “marijuana is harmless” or “it is not as bad as alcohol”.

Advocates rely on the fact that the federal government says that it will not prosecute states for marijuana issues.  What they do not talk about is the list of conditions that must be fulfilled so that the Attorney General would look the other way.  Without “cradle-to-grave” tracking systems for all material derived in the production and distribution process, and without significant protections to our keiki, the state is opening itself up to unwanted scrutiny by the Department of Justice.

Other items to note about HB321:

  • Dispensaries historically have not protected our families and our children – HB321 repeats the same mistakes.
  • While it prohibits dispensaries from being located within 500-feet of a public school, this restriction explicitly does not apply to private schools, parochial schools, charter schools, public playgrounds or preschools.
  • Places no restrictions on advertising or signage by production centers and dispensaries.
  • Creates exceptions to allow convicted felons to work and/or operate dispensaries or production centers.
  • Permits marijuana cultivation on state agricultural lands.

With all of the flaws in this bill, House leaders insist on fast-tracking the bill through committee hearings.  However, the precise reason why committee hearings are held is to ensure that the product is free from errors.  Rather than learning from the mistakes of others, legislators are setting themselves up for another failure like the Hawaii Health Connector.  While liberal Democrats will reap the rewards of a boundless supply of recreational marijuana, it will once again be Hawaii’s families that will suffer.

This is insane.

LINK: Draft Testimony Available

—————–

[1] – The recommendation of the lead committee (Health, in this case) is traditionally adopted by other committees (Judiciary) that participate in a joint hearing.  Those that follow the Legislature will note the lead committee’s recommendation is always (with only one or two known exceptions) adopted. As such, the judicial effects of state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries will not be addressed, much like public concerns regarding public safety.

[2] – By contrast, legislators do not hold weekend hearings when they expect to face significant opposition. Being absconded for hours on the 6 o’clock news makes for bad public relations. In the instance of significant opposition, the hearing will be scheduled with little notice at a highly inconvenient time.

[3]– State-approved dispensaries exist for cigarettes, alcohol and prescription pain-killers.  All were tasked with controlling the use of these substances and to prevent their use and abuse by minors. If these dispensaries have failed (especially with the security and protection that is built into a pharmacy), there is no reason to expect the effects of medical marijuana dispensaries to be any different.

[4] – Many of these same supporters also believe that inmates should be allowed to use marijuana too.

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