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Marijuana Topic of Meetings in Hilo, Pahoa

Posted January 20, 2014, 05:40 PM HST Updated January 24, 2014, 05:17 PM HST
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***Updated 4:41 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, to correct time of the Pahoa meeting.***

Meetings will be held this month in Hilo and Pahoa to both provide information and obtain public input on the state’s medical marijuana law.

The events are scheduled for 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at the YWCA at 145 Ululani St. in Hilo and from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Pahoa Neighborhood Center at 15-2710 Kauhale St.

The “talk story” sessions are being coordinated by the Drug Policy Action Group and the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii.

The groups want to hear from patients, caregivers and doctors about their experiences with the medical cannabis program in Hawai’i and how the program can be improved.

Topics of discussions will also include marijuana decriminalization and legalization bills, the groups said in a statement.

Among those speaking will be Pamela Lichty, president of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, a longtime drug policy reformer who wants to learn about the priorities Big Island residents have for the 2014 legislative session and to talk about the group’s legislative agenda.

Also scheduled to attend is Rafael Kennedy, the new field organizer for the Drug Policy Action Group. Local staff members of the American Civil Liberties Union will speak on their experience advocating for political change.

Speaking at the Pahoa event will be Tim McCormick of the state Department of Health, which in 2015 will take over Hawaii’s medical marijuana program from the state Department of Public Safety.

The events are being co-sponsored by Big Island Americans for Safe Access and the ACLU.

Even organizers requested that attendees RSVP by email to bigislandsafeaccess@gmail.com or info@mcchi.org, by visiting http://mcchi.org or calling 808-988-4386 on Oahu. The organizers can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter.

Those calling recently for changes to Hawaii’s medical marijuana law include House Speaker Joe Souki.

During remarks during last week’s opening of the 2014 legislative session, Souki called on fellow lawmakers to consider establishing dispensaries for medical marijuana.

While Hawaii residents with permits or their caregivers can grow medical marijuana, there is no other legal way for them to acquire cannabis or its seeds.

In his remarks, Souki also said that he was not suggesting that Hawaii follow the path of Washington and Colorado which last year legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

However, during the 2013 session Souki introduced a bill that would have done just that.

The bill, which also had the support of House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, died without being scheduled for a single hearing.

A bill that would have decriminalized the possession of marijuana passed through the state Senate and passed two of three required House votes before being bottled up in committee.

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