Call to Arms: Oppose HB1829 (Repeal of medijuana safeguards)

Suggested draft testimony can be found here.

Synopsis: HB1829 reduces or repeals safeguards that were passed with legislation establishing medical marijuana dispensaries.  When the legislation went through, marijuana activists assured the public that the system would be safe, that our children would be safe, and that there would be no question that medical marijuana would never find its way to the streets as recreational marijuana.

  • Section 2 reduces the penalty for medijuana fraud from a class B felony to a petty misdemeanor.
  • Section 3 reduces the penalty for giving medijuana to a minor from a class C felony to a petty misdemeanor.
  • Section 4 removes the criminal offense for unauthorized entry into a retail dispensing location.
  • Section 5 removes the criminal offense for unauthorized entry into a production center.
  • Section 6 removes the penalties for the unauthorized diversion (theft) from a dispensary or production center.

Removal of these safeguards amount to a bait and switch.  Public support was secured with assurances that safeguards would be robust.  Now that many legislators (and well-connected political elite) stand to make money hand over fist with medical marijuana (“medijuana”) dispensaries, they are weakening or repealing the very same safeguards.

Recommended position: Oppose, the bill repeals or weakens many safeguards that were built into the medical marijuana dispensary system.  This bill jeopardizes the safety of our families and our children.

Who: House Judiciary Committee
What: Hearing on HB1829 (Repeals and weakens medijuana dispensary safeguards)
When: February 12th, 2016 at 2:00PM
Where: State Capitol, Room 329
Why: HB1829 repeals or weakens many safeguards that were built into the medical marijuana dispensary system.  This bill jeopardizes the safety of our families and our children.
How: (a) In-person: In addition to your in-person testimony, be sure to submit written testimony. See the information below for information on parking.
(b) Written testimony: Written testimony can be submitted using the Capitol website. Written testimony must be received at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing to be ensure consideration by committee members. Late testimony will be accepted and entered into the record, but may not receive consideration due to time constraints.

Parking: Limited metered public parking is available in the basement garage of the State Capitol. On busy days (such as this), those stalls will likely be occupied. Do not park in reserved parking stalls! The parking structure in Ali’i Place (entrance on Alakea Street) is often more convenient. While the parking is not free, it is much more convenient than the congested parking garage underneath the Capitol. For those who are able to, the most convenient and reliable transportation option to the State Capitol is the bus.


 

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Call to Arms: Oppose SB2615 (Ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy)

Please note that the text of this bill is currently identical to the House version.  It is a separate vehicle that is being heard by the Senate, not the House.

Synopsis: SB2615 uses vague language to describe what a “licensed therapist” and what “sexual orientation conversion therapy” mean.  Previous attempts to ban the treatment have included any attempts to counsel a sexually-confused individual toward a heterosexual orientation — even if it is the therapeutically correct thing to do.  Because of the broad language, this can have grave implications on:

  • Clergy, acting in their capacity as religious and spiritual advisors.  [1]
  • Teachers, especially those in parochial schools.  [2]

SB2615 (and HB2179) appear to be cloaked attempts of liberal Democrats to dictate theology to people of faith.  Since church/state bars the government dictating doctrine to people of faith, liberal Democrats are inventing other ways to steamroll their agenda into the faith-based community.

Recommended position: Oppose, the broad definition of licensed therapist would include clergy and parochial school teachers and could force counsel/therapy in a manner that is contradictory to their religion or faith.

Who: Senate Committee on Education
Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health
What: Hearing on SB2615 (Ban on sexual-orientation conversion therapy)
When: February 12th, 2016 at 12:30PM
Where: State Capitol, Room 229
Why: The suggested ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy can be interpreted to include clergy, and would prohibit an individual from being counseled in a way that is consistent with their faith.  This is an unnecessary intrusion into our freedom of religion, and a gross violation of church/state separation.
How: (a) In-person: In addition to your in-person testimony, be sure to submit written testimony. See the information below for information on parking.
(b) Written testimony: Written testimony can be submitted using the Capitol website. Written testimony must be received at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing to be ensure consideration by committee members. Late testimony will be accepted and entered into the record, but may not receive consideration due to time constraints.

Parking: Limited metered public parking is available in the basement garage of the State Capitol. On busy days (such as this), those stalls will likely be occupied. Do not park in reserved parking stalls! The parking structure in Ali’i Place (entrance on Alakea Street) is often more convenient. While the parking is not free, it is much more convenient than the congested parking garage underneath the Capitol. For those who are able to, the most convenient and reliable transportation option to the State Capitol is the bus.


[1] Clergy are therapists in their capacity as a spiritual leader, and many of them have formalized training (such as a Doctorate of Divinity) that can be easily construed as a license.  This “licensed therapist” loophole is something that liberals would use to dictate what religions can and cannot believe in.  They attempted something similar with same-sex marriage by trying to classify places of worship as public accommodations – and to this effect would have to host same-sex marriages.

[2] Parochial school teachers operate differently from public school teachers and often act in several capacities.  A social studies teacher might also be a volleyball coach.  A math teacher who might also be a life coach (of sorts) to troubled students would also fall under the category and could not counsel on sexual orientation.

Power Play

Marijuana advocates are hard at work trying to game the system to ensure an easy and speedy passage of their pet legislation. In doing so, they do the public a great disservice – bypassing important committees. However, a deeper analysis reflects partisan dynamics and an internal party struggle to take credit for legalizing marijuana in Hawaii.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor scheduled a special hearing for Thursday morning to push out three more bills to decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Instead, those in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would be fined an amount not to exceed $100. So why does the Senate need five different bills to legalize marijuana?

Bill Referral Introducers
SB189 HTH/PSM, JDL ESPERO, Baker, Galuteria, Ihara, Ruderman
SB596 HTH, JDL RUDERMAN, ENGLISH, ESPERO, GABBARD, Shimabukuro
SB666 JDL ESPERO, GALUTERIA
SB708 JDL GABBARD, DELA CRUZ, ENGLISH, ESPERO, RUDERMAN, Riviere
SB879 JDL ENGLISH, DELA CRUZ, ESPERO, INOUYE, RUDERMAN, Baker, Shimabukuro

The first answer is ‘gaming the system’. Legislators carefully craft their bills with a mind toward the committees that the bills would likely be referred to. Notice from the table above that marijuana decriminalization bills started out by being referred to three different committees for a minimum of two hearings. The last three bills, to be heard on Thursday, will be heard by only one committee at one hearing. The simple answer is language from SB189 was further refined to make SB666 appear to only be a judicial issue.

That simply is not true. Advocates for marijuana have relentlessly tried to dissociate the issue of public safety from marijuana use. Possession of marijuana is just as much an issue of public safety as possession of an open alcoholic beverage, a concealed knife or a powder keg of explosives. Criminalizing possession is intended as a deterrent against dangerous actions.

The second answer is that the five different bills reflect internal power struggles in the hyper-partisan Senate, and an eagerness to take credit for legalizing marijuana. Despite wearing the same party label, there is a wide spectrum of views and personalities in the 24-member Senate majority caucus. Cliques that are more appropriate toward high school aged teenagers form as power centers.  Introduction and sponsorship of bills reflect these factions – Ruderman, Ihara and Gabbard (co-introducers on SB189) catapulted Espero into the Senate Vice Presidency. Not surprisingly, Espero’s signature appears on all five because of the authority he wields, and his passion to be the one who legalizes marijuana.

While this explains why five different bills exist, it does not explain why the Senate needs to pass three more when they have already advanced two bills (SB189, SB596) that do the exact same thing. In the Senate, there is value to hearing all five bills to maintain stability and alliances between different factions.

All three bills on Thursday’s JDL agenda should be opposed because they intentionally skipped a hearing before the public safety committee (PSM). Legalization/decriminalization of marijuana is a bad idea, fast-tracking the same idea through the Legislature by skipping committees only makes it worse – if that was even possible.

SB189 and SB596, which also require a hearing before JDL to advance are conspicuously absent from the day’s agenda. It looks like marijuana advocates are hoping that the House will also refer it to a single committee after it crosses over from the Senate to escape public debate and scrutiny.

For analysis and draft testimony, please see the 2015 Legislation Tracker.