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Alert! Need testimony in support of SB 113 and SB 175 for Tues hearing

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Great news! Two bills are being heard Tuesday. We need testimony in support, so I am asking you to continue the great momentum and please send in testimony on Monday. Only written testimony is being accepted. Especially important is SB 175, moving the program to Dept. of Health.

Both bills are being heard by the Committee on Ways and Means (the money committee in the senate)
1. By Email: Email if less than 5 pages in length, to Committee at WAMTestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov <mailto:WAMTestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov>. Please indicate the measure, date and time of the hearing. Email sent to individual office or any other Senate office will not be accepted.
2.By Web: Online if less than 4MB in size, at Submit Testimony by Email. IF YOU USE THIS METHOD, PLEASE WRITE A SENTENCE OR TWO IN THE BOX THAT SAYS "ADDITIONAL COMMENTS" on why you support the bill, otherwise, the testimony just has your name and "support" on it.


To: Senator David Ige, Chair
Senator Michelle Kidani, Vice Chair and
Members of the Committee on Ways and Means

From: (Your Name)

RE: SB 113 SD 1 Relating to Medical Cannabis Research OR SB 175 SD1 Relating to Health
Hearing: Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 9:20 a.m., Room 211


SB 175 SD1 Relating to Health
Transfers department jurisdiction of the medical marijuana laws from the department of public safety to the department of health.

I am writing in strong support of SB 175 SD1 which transfers the medical marijuana program to the Department of Health. (Here is where you can write your experiences and why you believe this transfer is especially important.) OR you can pick one of the talking points below.

Note that one of the amendments calls for the Dept. of Public Safety "to continue to maintain a verification process to confirm registration that is accessible 24/7 to the DOH." You may want to comment that all responsibilities should go to DOH, as other medical marijuana programs have 24/7 verification and the responsibilities are not split between 2 agencies. It's not that difficult to set up.

(There are two other amendments to the bill that you don't need to comment on.)

2.Moving the administration of the program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health was one of the top priorities recommended last year by the Medical Cannabis Working Group.

·3. An important proposal moves the program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health. The medical marijuana program should be in a department that has the experience of working with groups of patients and health programs. Easily accessible and easily understandable information on how the program works and outreach for the program are not currently available; this work would more likely be accomplished by a department with the experience and background of implementing other health programs.

·4. By placing the program in the Department of Public Safety, a law enforcement approach rather than a public health approach is being used to administer the program. Current patients and physicians have expressed concern about dealing with a narcotics enforcement agency. The original intent of the law was to create a public health program out of concern for patients with serious or chronic illnesses.

·5. There is also general concern about the records being kept in a law enforcement agency and who may also have access to them. I believe patients would have more confidence in a health agency as they handle other sensitive and private information about patients.

·6. In a serious breach of privacy, in June 2008, the Department of Public Safety released the entire list of the then 4,000 patients, their addresses, the location of their marijuana plants, license information, and the names of their physicians to Peter Sur, reporter for the /Hawaii Tribune-Herald/.

·7. Another good reason to move the program is that the Department of Health has the responsibility of considering new medical conditions that would qualify for the program. It seems reasonable that a single agency should be responsible for all aspects of the program.

SB 113 SD1 Relating to Medical Cannabis Research
Establishes a 3 year pilot medical cannabis research program in the State to provide a means by which a team of qualified researchers would undertake medical cannabis research involving local qualifying medical cannabis patients.

I am writing in strong support of SB 113 SD1 Relating to Medical Cannabis Research which establishes a medical cannabis pilot research program in Hawaii. (then add your reasons as to why you think research is necessary or pick 2 or three of the talking points below.)

1. The amendments included leaving blank the maximum number of patients allowed to participate in a research study. (This is done so that the next committee can insert a number.)

2. The state has already recognized the benefits of medical cannabis by the fact that it has legalized its medicinal use. The next step is to provide a platform on which the chemical properties and medicinal benefits of medical cannabis can be studied in a formal peer-reviewed manner. Since the program was established in 2000, aside from a questionnaire administered by the Marijuana Working Group earlier this year, there has been no formal research into the botanical and medical aspects of the plant based medicine that thousands of Hawai'i residents use every day.

3.From research results currently available, certain conditions respond better to particular strains of cannabis. Patients would benefit from this additional knowledge of which strain would provide them the best relief.

4. There is currently no legal means, either state or federal, by which researchers can conduct medical cannabis research in Hawai'i.

5. Since cannabis is still a Schedule I substance, it is extremely difficult to get approval from the DEA to conduct research with medical cannabis. Even in the rare instance where such approval is granted, research can only be carried out with cannabis that is grown at the only federally contracted lab at the University of Mississippi. Studying the cannabis strains that are currently being used in Hawaii, not random strains that the DEA controls will most benefit patients in Hawaii.

6. Institutions, such as UH Manoa, that depend upon federal grants, are unwilling to participate in medical cannabis studies for the unfounded fear that they will lose federal funding. In fact, California established the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UC San Diego in 2000.

7. This bill would enable the legal research of medical cannabis at the state level, thereby providing protection for researchers from attack by the DEA or other federal agencies.

8. It would also establish mechanism whereby privately or publicly funded research corporations could become licensed to conduct state approved research projects that must comply with certain research guidelines.

9. It would enable licensed researchers to obtain cannabis plants so that (1) the chemical properties of different strains can be analyzed under controlled laboratory conditions (2) specific strains of cannabis can be grown to provide study medication for patients with particular illness and (3) certified medical patients can be enrolled in controlled medical trials utilizing locally produced medicine.

I encourage everyone to continue sending in testimony. Thank you for all of your efforts.
Jeanne Y. Ohta
Executive Director
Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Both bills passed with amendments 13-0-1 (13 yes, 0 no, 1 excused) and move on to the full Senate.

Testimony was 28 to 1 (SB 113) and 37 to 4 (SB 175). Still overwhelming support!

Thanks to all who submitted testimony. Even though the opposition is not yet showing up, let's not become complacent. We'll need all the testimony we can when the bills pass to the House.
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