Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Musings: Fine Lines

With the state Legislature pondering bills decriminalizing marijuana possession and authorizing medical marijuana dispensaries, Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo has introduced a resolution opposing both.

HB 321, scheduled for a Senate committee vote today, fills a major puka in the state's 15-year-old medical marijuana law by creating a dispensary system that allows patients to legally obtain the herb. Counties could not use zoning laws to prohibit dispensaries.

Rep. Dee Morikawa voted for the bill, Rep. Derek Kamakami supported it with reservations and Rep. Jimmy Tokioka voted against it. Mel hopes to convince his colleagues today to also oppose the measure.

Hmmm. I wonder if Mel found out that former Councilman Tim Bynum wants to start a dispensary, and that soured him on the bill.  

But despite Mel's reservations, it's high time the state provided a mechanism to provide patients with a product they're legally entitled to have.

SB 879 would have eliminated the criminal penalty for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, and instead establish a civil violation subject to a fine of $100. Unfortunately, it's essentially dead for the session. And since the dispensary bill is up for a vote this AM, Mel's reso is effectively moot. 

Still, at least Mel's asking his colleagues to weigh in with a vote, rather than pretend to represent the entire Council as Gary Hooser has in his own testimony to the Lege this year.

While Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry and Prosecutor Justin Kollar did not weigh in on the decriminalization bill, the Honolulu Police Department wrote:

The HPD is not opposed to levying a fine for first-time ofenders. However, sentencing should also include mandatory substance abuse treatment, as it would be in the person's and the community's best interest if addiction is treated at its earliest possible stage.

Uh, possession does not equal addiction. And don't you guys think the state's valuable and scarce rehab resources should be directed to the ice users and alcoholics who are really wreaking havoc?

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Prosecutor's legislative liaison, who lobbied against bills like this, just lost his job for being a repeat drunk driver. So what does that say about substance abuse in America?

I was amused to see testimony from Bart Dame of Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, who wrote (emphasis in the original):

[W]e believe there is a lucrative niche market of tourists who would like to come to Hawaii and smoke Hawaii grown marijuana, which has an international reputation and would fetch high prices, allowing our small farmers to plant the most profitable crop suitable for our state, if only the government would get out of the way.

Yet curiously, he and other “progressives” have supported bills requiring the government to regulate every minute aspect of biotech agricultural production, and all pesticide use by every farmer.

Speaking of Bart and his fellow anti-GMO “progressives,” I wonder how they're going to respond to Gov. Ige's nomination of Suzanne Case (sister of former Hawaii Congressman Ed Case) to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Though Suzanne seems to hold all the desired green creds, she heads the Hawaii chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which the anti-GMO contingent denounced for accepting donations from Monsanto and the other chem companies.

Indeed, they attempted to use those donations to try and discredit Judge Barry Kurren, who struck down the Kauai and Big Island anti-GMO laws. It seems Kurren's wife was on the board of TNC, which somehow made her, and thus her husband, in collusion with the chem companies that donated to TNC.

Will the anti-GMO crowd hold Suzanne to similar scrutiny? 

Or, coming as she is on the heels of Carleton Ching's nomination, will the anti-corporate, anti-chem crowd decide that Suzanne is green enough — even though TNC is supported by the biggest corporations in the world and uses aerial applications of pesticides to control invasive species in the backcountry?

It can so challenging to straddle those ideological fine lines…..


Anonymous said...

You always nail the hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Good God, poke my eye out with a rice cooker. Big Boy Bynum's Bad Ass Bud Shoppe coming soon to a neighborhood near you?

Anonymous said...

People who are on mm should not be the ones operating a business!!

Anonymous said...

The anti GMO crowd are such hypocrites. I'm curious. do they even see the conflict between their words and actions? Bart Dame is the biggest phony. He has been at the forefront calling to restrict and regulate agriculture but not marijuana. He must not know cloning, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers are used in commercial marijuana production.

Anonymous said...

There isn't much difference between Carelton Ching and Suzanne Case. They both move in the rarefied world of large private land holdings and big money. TNC has always been known as the environmental organization for the super rich who donate for tax write offs while continuing business as usual. Their corporate donors are the world's biggest polluters. TNC Hawaii maintains Palmyra Atoll as a perk for their big donors, giving them exclusive trips in return for donations. Is this the model that will be used to maintain public lands in Hawaii by privatizing some land for the exclusive use of the rich? Access to TNC lands is closed to the public or highly restricted. Will the same happen to public land under Case's management? Ige is no fool but the environmentalists are.