Tone Deaf

A recent hearing before the House Transportation Committee has provided another opportunity for House leaders to demonstrate their arrogance and ignorance of statistics and scientific fact.  The offending leader this time is Cindy Evans (the House Majority Floor Leader), who introduced a resolution (HCR97):

to conduct a study to establish a reliable scientific threshold and testing protocol for determining whether a person cannot safely operate a motor vehicle due to being under the influence of marijuana

share1The answer already exists, and is shockingly similar to alcohol: none.

Coming from a liberal Democrat, this resolution is oddly surprising.  Their public relations campaign of smoke and mirrors wants the public to believe that alcohol is worse than marijuana.  One would think they would brush up on the science of alcohol before making such an absurd comparison.  Even moreso, that they would be up-to-speed on what we know about how alcohol impairs the ability to drive.

The National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHSTA) has made it clear that despite any legally binding threshold, any amount of alcohol is enough to impair driving.  You’ve seen the ad and you know the slogan “Buzzed driving is drunk driving“.  A story from Tuscon News Now (carried by Hawaii News Now) notes:

Drinking and driving can affect everyone but those most at risk are men 21 to 34 years old.

This group often falls into three categories.

  • People who drink and drive yet don’t consider themselves to be hazards on the roadways or a drunk driver.
  • Well-meaning “Average Joes” who don’t mean any harm but continue to drink and drive.
  • People who either feel invincible or just unrealistically optimistic about the control they have over their lives.

The Wednesday hearing before the House Transportation Committee is not the first time lawmakers have had trouble with the science of impaired driving.  Councilman Ron Menor was arrested for driving under the influence, and offense that cost him his senate seat.  Former deputy prosecutor and former Vice Speaker (of the House) Jon Riki Karamatsu was arrested for driving under the influence not once, but twice.  The NHSTA warning should really read:

Drinking and driving can affect everyone but those most at risk are men 21 to 34 years old lawmakers.

They don’t consider themselves to be hazards on the roadways, they are “well meaning Average Joes” or they “feel invincible or just unrealistically optimistic about the control they have over their lives”.

When the science about impaired driving is so amazingly clear, one is left to ask: What’s the deal with HCR97?

It’s an election year.

The original law permitting the use of medical marijuana and the most recent law establishing medical marijuana dispensaries did not set a legal threshold for impaired driving.  There is a legal threshold for alcohol, but no such threshold for marijuana (medical or otherwise).  The sponsors of HCR97

EVANS, BELATTI, CACHOLA, CHOY, CREAGAN, DECOITE, KOBAYASHI, LOWEN, LUKE, MORIKAWA, NISHIMOTO, ONISHI, SOUKI, TSUJI, YAMASHITA, San Buenaventura

have one thing in common – they all voted up on the medical marijuana bill.  It was not based on science, and did nothing to protect the public against marijuana-addled drivers.

Liberal democrats are not concerned with the science – it already exists.  They already have enough science to establish a legal threshold of “zero” for marijuana-impaired driving and are concerned with their re-election. They are hoping to negotiate the science behind marijuana and hoping for a threshold above zero for marijuana-impaired driving.  It would look really bad if marijuana users would have to forfeit their driving privileges to support their habit.

The “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality has liberal Democrats always playing catch up – whether it is medical marijuana, medical marijuana dispensaries or even same sex marriage.  Deeper analysis shows that liberal Democrats are not in touch with the public and prefer to pander to minority constituencies while jeopardizing public safety.  They are always two steps behind, and always having to cover themselves for their shoddy workmanship.

Rather than doing it right the first time, they are fixing it later.  For once, they made good on their promise.

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Call to Arms: Decriminalization of Drug Dealing

Draft testimony is available here.

This post has been edited (for accuracy) since it was initially written.

SB2179 goes above and beyond any bill previously heard by the Legislature.  While decriminalization [1] of marijuana possession is an issue that liberal Democrats have pushed hard on, SB2179 broadens the scope of their ambitions by decriminalizing the distribution [2] of all drugs.

The bill is unabashedly simple and seeks to reduce both possession of drugs and the distribution of drugs from felonies to civil violations. Rather than being removed from the streets, SB2179 would ensure that crystal meth traffickers would have a quick return to the streets after being slapped on the wrist with a civil violation.

Under SB2179, drug traffickers would be treated as leniently as jaywalkers.  If drug users and drug traffickers are tired of being treated like criminals, perhaps they should stop breaking the law.

Advance notice indicates that the committees plan for a large turnout. It is certain that marijuana (and other) advocates of drug use will turn out as a large group to push the measure through.

Who: Senate Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs
Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor
What: Hearing on SB2179 (Decriminalization of drug possession and drug dealing)
When: February 10th, 2016 at 8:30AM
Where: State Capitol, Room 016
Why: Drug possession and drug dealing are severe offenses. While drug addicts deserve rehabilitation, the collective safety of our children and our communities are jeopardized when crystal methamphetamine dealers are treated the same as jaywalkers.
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] Remember that decriminalization is the same as legalization.  Marijuana advocates prefer “decriminalization of marijuana” because it does not provoke the same sharp negative response as “marijuana legalization”.

[2] Liberal Democrats do not like the term “drug trafficking” since it provokes a quick and negative response from most people.  They prefer “drug delivery”, hoping that ignorance might prevent the public from knowing that they are the same thing.


Edits: Please bear in mind that just like other things that we study in our lives, we gain a better understanding.  The best tools to equip people of faith in the legislative arena are grounded in knowledge.

February 4th, 2016, 8AM – Added footnote to clarify decriminalization and legalization.  Changed references from drug dealing to drug trafficking.  The law attempts to distinguish between individuals who sell drugs and individuals who transport them.  Drug dealers are well aware of this loophole and exploit it when they are caught.  SB2179 still does not distinguish between someone who is trafficking marijuana versus crystal methamphetamine.

 

 

 

Legislative Incompetence

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/NCI_swiss_cheese.jpgEnamored with the idea of establishing medical marijuana dispensaries, like-minded legislators blindly pushed toward a conclusion without properly vetting HB321.  Later signed into law as Act 241, the strongest proponents of the measure are hoping you will look past the sloppy workmanship behind the bill, how it is riddled with flaws and how the public will suffer from their incompetence.

A recent article featured on Pacific Business News (PBN: Hawaii lawyers must not serve medical marijuana licensee hopefuls, disciplinary board says) noted:

Hawaii lawyers must not provide legal services to clients seeking a license to run the state’s first medical marijuana businesses, according to a new formal opinion released by the Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Due to a conflict between state-level marijuana legislation and federal law, lawyers could be sanctioned for serving the interests of a medical marijuana dispensary.

There are other similar conflicts that affect both medical and recreational dispensaries in other states – particularly their relationship with banks.  Since banks are subject to federal oversight, accepting and storing deposits from a marijuana dispensary would put the bank itself in jeopardy.  As a result, dispensaries have had great difficulty with simple tasks like depositing their money (often resorting to methods as crude as storing wads of cash underneath a mattress) and paying their employees.

The take-home message from this incident is that nothing in HB321 solved for the well-known banking problem that marijuana dispensaries have, and nothing solves for the problem of legal representation for the business entity and individuals associated with the dispensary itself.  While legislative leaders who resurrected the bill after it died would like you to think that this is a relatively recent problem, PBN counters with a quote from Carl Bergquist of the Drug Policy Forum:

[The opinion’s] footnote 1 mentions how states have tackled the same exact dilemma —one way is by statute, but an easier way is to have the court itself change its rules, or add a comment to the rule. … (emphasis added)

If other states have already corrected this oversight with in statutes, why was a similar provision not included in HB321?  It should be noted that the only policy of the Drug Policy Forum is full-legalization of marijuana and other drugs.  If the supporters of marijuana knew about this, why didn’t legislators?

The courts should not have to fix it, this should have been done correctly the first time.  The benefit of being a late-adopter of a concept (much like an Apple product) is that you learn and benefit from the mistakes of others.  Hawaii, being relatively late to the medical marijuana dispensary game, had the mistakes and experience of numerous other jurisdictions to learn from.  Who knows what other gaping holes exist in the bill?  Maybe we will find out that the top-down integration (as opposed to horizontally-integrated model) of medical marijuana dispensaries was the worst possible model to execute in HB321.

This unfortunate oversight is evidence of the lackadaisical attitude that elected officials take toward drafting.  This “shoot first, ask questions later” style of lawmaking is the exact opposite of the slow and deliberate approach that should be taken toward laws.  Similar to the same-sex marriage law that was enacted several years ago, Progressive Democrats have always carried the attitude that they will come back and fix it later.  And much like same-sex marriage, they never do.

Whether it was by accident (legislative incompetence) or on purpose (legislative duplicity), the people of Hawaii are left to wonder if our elected officials are working hard, or hardly working.


Bloggers note: The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.  There are a plethora of topics still to write about.  As a blogger, I believe in writing only when I have a unique viewpoint to the discussion.  There is no point in repeating what has already been said.  Thank you for your understanding while the blog took a short (and much needed!) hiatus.  Look for more as both the next legislative session and election start to wind up. -JH