The Hawaii medical marijuana (MMJ) program was initially set up the EXACT same as California's proposition 215. California's government was pro-MMJ. Hawaii? Not so much. History speaks for it's self. With the program pushing 18 years now, dispensaries are as far away as ever, labs have been getting the run around for years, and patients are still at risk of arrest just for being a patient.
The "affirmative defense" has NEVER been successfully used in Hawaii for a MMJ patient. Oh wait, with one exception... Hawaii v. Woodhall. Dude was transporting his herb in his car. Cops said it was illegal, he used his affirmative MMJ defense. Court said he wasn't allowed the defense because he was in violation (see how it works? not.) He lost. Appealed... next court said the same, no can, you broke the rules...go to jail. Finally the Supreme court heard the case. They ruled on his behalf that transportation is protected and said "any other interpretation of the law would be absurd". He won! We won. Or did we? Not one other person has ever used the MMJ defense in Hawaii, or should I say ever been allowed to use it.
Why? I guess every cop who arrested ANY patient, EVER, got it right. It seems every person was out of compliance (there is no legal way to obtain cannabis or plants, seeds, etc. according to them-see how that works?) So everybody is out of compliance? The State "stands silent" on all of these matters. NOT ONE MMJ patient has ever been helped by the affirmative defense (except Woodhall). After he went through hell. How many patients have been arrested, lost their plants, usable medicine, charged with paraphernalia, lost their kids, and/or had property seized? Hawaii MMJ law is a joke...but it's not funny. Patients suffer!
The most recent changes to the law (HRS 329 Part IX) have again given the patients the short end of the stick. Different definitions of what a MMJ plant is for patients and dispensaries? Sounds fair! Patients cant fly with meds but dispensaries can for testing? Totally fair. Caregivers can only grow for one person but dispensaries can grow 3,000 plants? Seems like that's cool too. Act 178 eliminated the restriction of distribution to being only allowed between a caregiver and a patient. They actually crossed it out in an attempt to make medicine more accessible. But patients trading among themselves MUST be criminal right? Patients helping patients? Collectives? Cops and prosecutors pick the low hanging fruit and MMJ patients are still going to jail..
Over 98% of Hawaii State criminal cases are plea-bargained away by overeager public defenders and local lawyers used to making a buck off 'pot-heads'. Like a machine the State lives off MMJ patients, growers, and consumers for years while the hard drugs flow in under the watchful eye of Hawaii police. The whole system needs to be overhauled but that will never happen in Hawaii where the old guard likes things the way they are, and change comes slow. Especially when so many people have a vital stake in the weed game out here. Perhaps some legislators will have the guts to actually stand up for the people over profits or maybe a patient will go to the hilt on a MMJ case changing everything for everybody.
Mike Ruggles may be that MMJ patient. Currently fighting a criminal case for operating the state's first private MMJ collective, the Alternative Pain Management Pu'uhonua. His case should once and for all settle the State's "stand silent" stance, Act 178 and prove that authorities have been picking on patients illegally. More on this landmark case https://www.hawaiihigh.biz/new-blog/2016/3/17/khhy0px7bkh6nip9bq7yhnqgyytzma