by Andrew Walden
While all eyes are on the hordes of lawyers and political insiders elbowing their way to the front of the line for Hawaii's lucrative 'medical' marijuana dispensary licenses, another story is unfolding with little public notice.
In police raids, September 18-21 on Hawaii Island, 6,700 pot plants were confiscated. According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald the 'medical' marijuana database literally provides a roadmap for police to follow: "Officers checked areas that had previous grows...along with checking on people with medical marijuana licenses."
No arrests were made, leaving the customer base intact, but bereft of supply, thus creating demand.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii Department of Health is touting new rules for the Marijuana Registry Program which took effect July 18, 2015. Setting the stage for future confiscations, the new rules require that so-called 'patients' claim ownership of their marijuana plants by tagging them with their name and marijuana card number. Untagged plants will be taken by police. Likewise, marijuana card holders who do not have their card with them will face confiscation of any marijuana police find on them. These measures reduce the non-crony supply, driving more customers to patronize 'dispensaries' owned by Hawaii's political elite.
While supply is reduced, new DoH rules ease the process for 'patients' to obtain marijuana cards, thus increasing demand.
Police raids and more marijuana cards are a sign of the political power the new marijuana industry already has over Hawaii's legislative and executive branches. It's not the only sign. Obstruction of HB321, the marijuana dispensary bill, was cited as the reason for the removal of Sen. Josh Green as Conference Committee Chair and the subsequent removal of Senate President Donna Kim last May.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chair Robert Lindsey sits on the board of a DHHL-based, OHA funded, non-profit considering a foray into the marijuana dispensary business. One marijuana consultant has asked that a future Hawaiian tribe be included in mainland Indian Tribes' marijuana operations.
Dozens of lawyers continue to beaver away at the dispensary licensing process in spite of a still-standing ruling by the Hawaii Disciplinary Review Board forbidding their involvement. The fact that so many attorneys are willing to gamble their licenses on a predicted State Supreme Court reversal of the Disciplinary Board decision shows the degree to which they believe the marijuana industry controls the Judiciary as well.
These realities will shape Hawaii's marijuana policies in coming months and years.
Public health is trumped by tax revenues--as shown by the speed with which the Legislature stepped up to stamp down E-Cigs in face of reduced tobacco sales and tax revenues.
Imagine the far greater degree to which public health is trumped by the intoxicating brew of tax revenue and crony profits promised by marijuana dispensaries.
Smoking marijuana can no longer be seen as an act of cultural rebellion. Marijuana is just a tool to keep the public doped up and easy to manipulate while fat cat lawyers, politicians, and land developers walk away with the money, laughing.
It finally is hip to be square.