Hawaii Alliance for Cannabis Reform – Discussion Panel

Hawaii Cannabis Expo 2024 – Blaisdell Exhibition Hall (Honolulu, HI) February 2-4, 2024 

Discussion Panel hosted by Hawaii Alliance for Cannabis Reform – Nonprofit Feb 3 – Room 2: 1PM – Cannabis Bills in the 2024 Legislative Session Meet the Panelists: – Nikos Leverenz -Kim Coco Iwamoto -Randy Gonce -Wendy Gibson-Viviani,

HACR is composed of nonprofits and community organizations that recognize prohibition has failed, and it’s time for a more sensible approach. The Hawai‘i Alliance for Cannabis Reform is dedicated to ending cannabis prohibition in Hawai’i and replacing it with a system of legalization and regulation, with a focus on reparative justice and inclusion. Hawai‘i residents support legalizing cannabis use for adults. Cannabis prohibition entails direct enforcement costs. Legalization makes it possible to regulate and control cannabis in order to promote public health and safety.

thank you for coming out everyone thank you for the ho Cannabis Expo thank you to Drew for helping us set up this panelgiving us the opportunity to discuss with you all today today um this panel is highlighting the Hawaii Alliance forcannabis reform and some of our efforts uh to work the legislative system um toimprove things in state capital um so first of all I just wantto give a little bit of a background on the hacr how pered and um what theimportance of the group is so uh this is a member organizationum we have a few members currently have assed on to the Coalition it’s a mostly some nonprofitssing Hawaii Innocence Project doctors for drug policy reform last prisonersproject Council for Native lne advancement drug policy form of HawaiiACLU of Hawaii marijuana policy project cannabis education Hawaii and theChamber of sustainable Commerce uh we have some other organizations that that hop in and helpout when they can uh but these are the main organizations that are working uh through the legislative system to get some changesdone uh HR was formed roughly about two years ago um a marijuana policy projectcame to the island uh in the form of Devon war was a policy uh individual whohas worked in uh Criminal Justice Reform he has his own law firm uh and helping on this issue he helped put thisCoalition together um last year there was a big effort um to to do legalization the year before that therewas also an effort um and then this per this first year or the second year hasbeen kind of the bigger collaborative effort um to get thingsdone so um we have some panelists here today and I’m going to give them the opportunity to introduce themselves umand then to talk about their organizations what their interest is in this issue um and how they collaboratewith the uh hccr so we can start down at the end there with Wendygreat thank you everybody for coming out for this um I’m Wendy Gibson Vivani I’ma cannabis nurse educator and I worked for the drug policy forum and medical cannabis Coalition of Hawaii for sevenyears as an organizer so um I served on a a handfulof task forces um that helped give recommendations to legislators um aboutwhat should be in certain bills and um the most recent of those task forceswas in 2022 which was the Dual use of cannabis task force and we were tasked withlooking at the impacts of adult use legalization on the medical cannabisprogram and also on public health in general and we came up with a a bunch ofrecommendations about what should be in a legalization bill for the legislators corporatesir could you please stop interrupting it’sreally I know but just wait till the end the question let people let people have a chance to speak we really don’t neededitorializing we really don’t you know we’re here we’re here to try to give you some information and information we knowI I I don’t have the information just wait till the end if you don’t mind can you please just let other people have a chance to learnthankYouk hello H my name is NCO Leen uh I’m with the drug policy Forum of aaii um Iserve as the board president uh there um I’ve been talking about cannabis issuesfor about 20 years stting back to my time with drug policy Forum in inSacramento in part of their Sacramento office um so very brieflyum I’ve seen sort of the Cannabis landscape here uh the medical cannabis landscape is is very cramped it’s veryuh it’s it’s not functional the way it could be um and a lot of that is due tobureaucratic resistance and political lethargy um one of my concerns and I wehave as a coalition we have many deep concerns with the the Attorney General’s Bill and we’ve outlined those on a on asheet here um that look for the no more drug board banner and we’ll be talkingabout some of those concerns um we also you know have listened to you know the hemp industryand some of their concerns about being you know lassoed into the prospective canvas control board and againIndustrial Hemp is is another case study along with uh our medical cannabisdispensary system of government having authorization and having a regulatory structure in place and not properlyimplementing it so you know I I can see why the hemp industry does not want tobe included in the canvas Authority um so we can talk about that later I I tooserved on the adult use uh uh canvas board as one when I think Wendy andiroll one of only were the only two community members that were not aligned with government or not aligned withindustry um and it’s really important to I I come from California so I’m used tohaving a Grassroots participation and I I do invite you know Grassroots participation and we needpeople uh to get out there and and raise their voices and provide testimony and provide their perspectives tolegislators um we’re a diverse Community we need to prioritize and emphasize uhsmall farmers we need to prioritize and emphasize a native Hawaiian communitythat continues to at the front of this state’s criminal legal system in the Cannabis space in Drug law enforcementand elsewhere so um this this this bill provides us a vehicle to talk about thatit’s very imperfect um I was quoted in marijuana moment recently saying this is this is a vet glove of legalization onthe iron hand of law enforcement so we need to tread very very carefully when it comes to what’s actually in theskills content so um I’ve probably gone on long but uh here is uh Kim Koko fromthe Chamber of sustainable Commerce thank you Nikos um thank you for the opportunity to join this conversation uhthe Chamber of sustainable Commerce U made up of mostly small businesses uh webelieve or we pursue a triple bottom line and that’s people planet andprosperity um we believe that we can strengthen our economy without hurtingworkers uh without hurting consumers or communities or the environment um we aremostly focused um we advocate for mostly small businesses against corporate greedand the power of corporate lobbyists um and specifically on this issue um I’mparticularly um or we are particularly concerned um or primary focus is toensure that small farmers who are growing food for local consumption arethe first ones to get um um commercial grow permits for non-med cannabis um ifit does move in that direction and we want to make sure that those um we want to make sure that the profit marginsthat um can be made off growing you know whether it’s canus h whatever it is umthat that amazing profit margin will go and um you know subsidize growing foodwhich a lot of our farmers are already doing right helps them it’ll help them undercut those expenses so we have morefood being grown in Hawaii for local peopleawesome thank you all so much um again these are just some of the individuals on our Coalition that are workingengaging lawmakers um a lot of the groups here have had uh other issuesthey work on at the legislative process uh this happens to be one that we have some core ideas that we agree on when itcomes to legalization um so just to introduce a little bit more about hacr the missionof HCR is dedicated to ending cannabis Prohibition in Hawaii and replacing itwith a system of legalization and regulation with a focus on reparative Justice and inclusion and reallyemphasizing that reparative Justice and inclusion portion uh we have a lot of great organizations have worked onCriminal Justice Reform in the past uh prison reform in the past uh we have the Council of native Hawaii advancementthat is looking for opportunities to up uplift our local communities um andgiven what we’re going to be talking about today is some of the difficulties in the in the legalization bill that come up we really want to highlight ourefforts to en encourage individuals to get involved and discuss those specificProvisions in this bill make sure we are uplifting our local community making sure that people who are most harmed bythe war on drugs are at the front of the line when we talk about what’s happening in canisreform so next we are going to um kind of givea little context and I’ll provide a little bit of context to where we are today today so we’ve had a medical program for about um roughly s to8 yearsand it has been very difficult to get this medical program uh fully functional and the state capital has has discussedum legalization bills in the past or the legalization of cannabis um they’ve passed now the Senate has passed ittwice out of their entire chamber um and the house has yet to to hear a bill sohere we are in 2024 and to pass a bill in the state of Hawaii um it’s it’s different than otherstates so right so Nikos of seen in California places like Oregon and Washington you can have a ballotinitiative you can go around and collect a bunch of signatures from individuals and get and get something passed in yourstate Hawaii does not have that process we have to go through the legislature we have to go through our elected officialsand that presents a huge hurdle especially when it comes to uh A legislature that hasn’t been favorablefor cannabis in general it was very difficult for us to get the medical program as it is um and to make changesin that has been very very difficult so now we have um the Executive Branch the attorney general who has looked over theissue and provided their comments we have the Senate which is another branch of government who has now passed something and now we’re looking at theHouse of Representatives to take a stand and uh move forward on this issue so if those three items come together we canhave a very robust conversation and a possibility of legalizing cannabis in Hawaii and that’s where we aretoday um full legalization has now had one formal legislative working grouptask force which Nikos myself Wendy has sat on um and it’s now followed up withtwo bills and the current bill we’re going to discuss today is House Bill 2600 and Senate Bill3335 this is kind of a cumulation of a lot of that work um that been put together into a a package um introducedin both the house and the Senate and is going to be the The Vessel this yearthat’s going to get the most conversation around legal ization so if those you want to provide comments andtestify please take note uh HB 3335 has been scheduled for a hearing so therewill be a hearing on this bill in the Senate and it’s going to be on the 13thof this month at 900 a.m. so if you want to provide comments either show up in person um or submit them online you cando so so the next part I want to provide tothe panelist to discuss a little bit about is diving a little bit deeper into this legislation into the work that wehave all been doing in the interactions we’re doing on our our uh bi-weekly calls interactions with um policyleaders and discuss some of our concerns about this bill and then after the concerns we’ll discuss about some thingsthat we think are positives in the bill and things we can strengthen um so maybe I’ll start with Nico since you have adeep policy experience in California and uh here in Hawaii maybe we can talk about some of the the the high highlevel challenges in our legalization bill this year yeah so so when so when this billcame across the transom and when we took a look at it there there were a lot ofdeficiencies let’s just be be compling about that um again we’re appreciativeto see a a lengthy vehicle a comprehensive vehicle but it was far fartoo law enforcement heavy um we have a list I I think I will held this up thefour of things that we can go down um again if we’re going to legalizeadult use cannabis we must Center small farmers on everyCounty we don’t need Walmart weed or cannabis coming into aaii and extractingyou know our resources again so I I I had the the privilege of co-authoring anoped with council member keani Rollins Fernandez and representative Jan capellathat ran in civil beat on December 21st it’s called in cannabis prohibition tohelp hawaiis underserved communities to help benefit as underserved communities um and I we hadit’s a lengthy thing it’s but we we understood that what’s at stake here isending this current prohibition regime that includes a very limited very anemicmedical cannabis sector and creating a thriving cannabis economic sector onevery island in including grower communities so we concluded our ourjoint opad together said that any solution must include Hawaiian handsworking Hawaiian lands and that is a very important Baseline that I I hope all of us will take forward into thisconversation um we’re not we’re not here to make money for for discreet groupslike you know some of the current dispens owners hey they’ve done they’ve done their part in a in a difficultlandscape um they’ve they’ve been patient they’ve been they’ve played by the rules but yeah but they shouldn’tnecessarily you know yeah they should yeah they shouldn’t necessarily have you know an inside track on inthe we get it we get itso let’s did you want me to go down the list Randy sure let’s let’s go down a few of the items um and this is also atwo-way street so if there’s any items that you guys uh you know raise your hand for a question you want us to really dive in deeper on um we’re goingto talk about some things around like driving drug to driving stuff like that if you want some more context uh feelfree to to raise your hand um and we can call on you for some deeper discussion so first off um just even the revenueallocation uh very law enforcement heavy um with only 25% going to social Equityor Community reinvestment um I personally believe that this is not the the view of theauthority that we need resources going to community programs including youthprogramming we need resources dedicated to to housing including permanentsupporting housing for those who need it um we need increased access to behavioral health treatment outside ofthe the carceral system we have a a very very serious mental health uh crisisgoing on even in this state particularly in our underserved communities in our rural communities I just talked with a awoman working on mokai and every time a young man person takes a life there it’sit’s it’s it’s almost a surprise to them because we we we don’t have the thecapacity as a culture to talk rationally about our mental health system um and that and that’s throughout whateverwhatever social strategy you’re in um so we need we need to dedicate resources toto Urgent uh human and social needs we also need vigorous expungement policiesto ensure that you know those who have been harmed by cannabis prohibition you know get their records clear um we alsoneed to ensure that people who use cannabis have protections under law this bill still has a whole bunch ofcollateral consequences if you use cannabis so you know you can lose custody for your children you canpotentially lose state benefits lose a professional occupation license you still have your parole or Pro probationsupervision revoked for for use of cannabis it really criminalizes Youthand this is one of the more pernicious things of the Attorney General’s bill when when Colorado legalized in 2012 weactually saw an increase in youth arrest rates and a disproportionate number of those were African-American use in inColorado here what we’re going to see is the increased criminalization of nativewine and Pacifica youth so that needs to be nipped in the bud um we also have tobuild equity into the structure of of our emerging cannabis economy we have totake a look at CRA the craft cannabis model like they have in Maine where we encourage small entrepreneurs andFarmers you know to participate in the market and to create a mechanism for their participation we don’t need thecalization of the Cannabis sector we need broad participation we need to Dealso develop a cannabis tourism industry cannabis tourism you know I know youknow a lot of us don’t like tourism but people do come here from all over the world mainly from the Us West and andeven from Canada now and they have adult use legalized uh markets there and theycome here and we don’t why why aren’t we meeting that need we have we have a County prosecutorhere in Honolulu Steve on saying that this is going to hurt Canabis tourismno and we and I showed that you know in the in recent years Canada has Provitself standing alone not even counting the plurality of people coming from the Us West provided more residents spendingmore money than people from Japan so raising the Spectre that this is this is going to impede and impair tness it’sjust totally exist in genous it’s it’s classic drug war fear mongering and youknow this this Wednesday I encourage you to come out uh to to the MemorialAuditorium near city hall because prosecutor Al and mayor blangiardi arehaving another public forum uh opposing adult use legalization andbut not just opposing commercialization to quote unquote keep Havi hav he’s actually inviting people fromthe continent with a group called uh safer St safer Alternatives or marijuana whatever the acronym is smart approachesto marijuana sorry safer Alternatives is something elsebut but anyway either you’re for continued criminalization of cannabisand and this prosecutor is also very intent on maintaining criminalization ofbehavioral health issues and poverty um so this fits into a piece we have aprobation system that has the highest average term in the nation 59 months alot of it is due to our sentencing law but a lot of that is due to our prosecutorial practices so we have a acity prosecutor who is basically of the Ragan Bush drug war mold and we can dobetter when on Wednesday at the Memorial Auditorium NEXHulu um and uh at 1 p.m. there are some flyers going around that that discusseswhere that is um and then there is some organiz organ organizing to uh bring the opposing view to that space um hold somesigns hold some space to show that the community is in support of this issue um even though some of our electedofficials are not okay and before I conclude here for now I just want to say that it’s very important to take a lookat what the Cannabis Authority uh is composed of right nowit’s a bunch of political employees unpaid um we need a professional bodyregulatory body we need that means being paid we need to have their deliberationsbe subject mostly to State Sunshine laws to Pro to promote transparency yes weneed representation from n the native Hawaiian community and also we have toensure that nobody serves on this Authority who has been a A prohibitionist or align withprohibitionist organizations why I agree with that too we don’t we don’t need you know we don’tagain we don’t we’re not looking to promote Walmart lead and this is what has happened that’s what this is whatthis is what yeah this is what has happened on the continent is that adult use legalization has served as an onrfor large multi-billion dollar corporations to come in take over we getit we get it we get it I get it yeah I know I know you know I yeah so we needto make sure that this benefits the community not Mainlandcorporations Wendy maybe we can talk a little bit about um the provision that we are concerned about around drugdriving in the bill um and maybe some of the from your medical experience some ofthe non-scientific medical um fores sites that are in that provisionwell yes there’s a provision in the bill that wouldum know how to start um so anybody caughtum driving with a blood level of what isit0 five% or something n per millit will beconsidered to be driving under influence and prosecuted fully and we know thatthe science doesn’t support any certain number um you know as far as lab testinggoes um it doesn’t show that the person was intoxicated so they could beprosecuting many many patients including just medical cannabis patients who mightwell have those levels in their system but are not driving intoxicated becauseit’s just um that’s just not how cannabis Works cannabis is a a fat-basedmolecule a plant and those those fats umget into your body fats and might persist for a lot longer than um youknow for well quite some time and so you might get tested and um be prosecuted ifyou if you’re levels are a certain number which is U there’s there’s noscience behind the the numbers that they’ve come up with so that’s something that we’re going to oppose in in theAttorney General’s Bill and there’s been some new data that’s recently came out and some research around uh howarbitrary that number is depending on what you’ve eaten that day depending on on your weight your size your yourmetabolic uh issues you could you know have consumed days before you could be not impaired at all but still have thatfive Nan GRS uh and then now you’re caught up in the legal legal system whether you can prove your innocence ornot uh that puts people in a really really difficult position and we shouldn’t be making this harder if we’re going to be legalizing in Hawaii weshould be making the lives of the local people and people who operate here much easier another part of this sameprovision that’s in the bill that we want to highlight and push back on is the open container law so as we all knowthere’s open container laws around alcohol you can’t have an open container of alcohol uh in the car things of thatnature but they are kind of mimicking that um and wanting that to be the same for cannabis so you can’t have an opencontainer of cannabis in the vehicle whether you’re a passenger or a driver uh and that can be criminalized and wewant to prevent that significantly I mean just because you have an open uh container of a flower does not mean thatyou are actively consuming when you’re driving doesn’t mean you should be prosecuted for that uh and that alsoincludes passengers that maybe even are just holding on to a vaporizer um so it’s very Broad and it and it’s veryharmful so these are some items again we have this laid out on our our handoutthat we would love really public to come out and and vocalize how disappointed we are in some of these uh overreaches ofof criminalization of this this issue question it just itseems we’ve had medical marijuana since 200 Y and now we’re going to incarceratesick people the the other difficult part as you mentioned you know the medical cannabisprogram has been around for a while and there’s no prohibition on your your medical cannabis in your car at themoment uh so this is actually going going backwards and Now setting up additional laws to uh criminalizecertain behavior um patients are allowed to transport correct but I don’t think there’s any open container and thiswould make it difficult it also says you can’t consume in your vehicle um and some patients you know utilize tincturessome some patients utilize bombs solves things of that nature uh before they go to uh locations before they’re going todoctor’s appointments things like that this would criminalize them not even be able to touch their medicine in their own vehicle again something that is ishuge concern and and and overreach in our opinion of of how to implement thesystem all law enforcement all the time so I I guess I’m just wondering is itactually common in states where it’s been legalized for the Poli arrest people and say like you got opencontainer in there and the reason I asked is because I’m from Oregon and we have the exact same laws you got to haveit in your trunk and all this stuff and I’ve never heard of anybody actually getting arrested for having I never putit in the back ever and I just feel like maybe we’re worrying about things thatare any this probably famous last words before before walk into the ovens but you know I mean are we really worryingabout something that’s going to happen I mean I’m with something that’s not real it’s happening now yeah our patients arebeing yeah cited for driving into the influence they test positive I mean it’sa good concern because they didn’t have a way to test that anybody accepted so it was it on the books everywhere buteveryone’s like well this just get thrown out as soon as you’re in court because they’re like this is tra science nobody accepts this sure should have itinol it’s a waste of time it’s a hassle to everybody who’s involved but I’m just kind of wonder like I don’t know I meanI don’t like it either right but we can fix that later yeah but you you rightthe history of racism and law enforcement I mean who’s it’s just becomes another excuseto yeah and I mean it’s a good question because we we do have current adecriminalization of a very small amount of cannabis in Hawaii three grams are under right I mean that’s uh nothingright it’s less than an e most of us if you’re carrying your medicine have more than that on you um the data has notbeen released by the law enforcement Community yet on what the numbers are that are getting arrested for over thatwe know that it’s still pretty low that that that hun Police Department is not looking for people with a joint um or alittle bit over three grams but there are consequences to having that in placeeven as it is if people aren’t getting arrested for that specific item right um so although we don’t have the arrestnumbers of people getting arrested for cannabis possession in Hawaii we do know that if you’ve uh have possession or inyour system and you’re in the parole system you’re you’re you know trying to do better and you’re you’re in that thatspace you pop positive for a test now you’re in prison now you’re in jail and and again the minute that an individualcomes into contact with a criminal justice system is it could be a downdownhill slope right so what we’re really trying to do is pre prevent the the interaction with criminal justiceand the authorities in general um and this being one of them them um especially the open container law um itdoes have a fine up of $2,000 um and it and again it says when a cannabis package has ever been openedloose cannabis or any pipe so um an you have a question yeah is it true thatcannabis can actually stay in your system for months the question is is it true if the Cannabis uh can stay in yoursystem for months did you want to take that yes yes that is true because it stays in your fat even though it’s notactively working on you it’s still residual in in your system I think up to90 days or so probably the max I have a question about the attorneygeneral so they’re hired by the governor does that mean thegovernor it’s like they’re basically speaking on behalf of the governor with all of these things that they put intothe spill I mean should we be confronting the governor holding himaccountable for his AG’s position I I think I thinkunder under ordinary political circumstances yes you know Josh Greencampaigned for adult use cannabis legalization and this represents a verysignificant shift on his part um back when when our dispensary bill was passedhe had to be taken off conference committee because he was still opposed to to even medical Canabis but as moreand more states legalize as support public support for Canabis legalizationNationwide and even here in Havi we’re over 55% for legalization uh I think he saw theopportunity and he saw that the the handwriting is already on the wall and that we need to prepare Havi for forlegalization um and under a situation where you you know somebody is workingfor a governor I would I would hope that the governor at some point would take amore proactive public role in this conversation we need we need his inputuh we we need him to to come out and in support of public health and humanrights and for the the the decriminalization of of our communitiesincluding the communities you know that he represented when he was in the Senate um and I think he gets that however Ialso know that you know he it’s general practice here for governors in the stateto give their department heads broad latitude um so just one example of whereexecutive leadership really matters is is in Minnesota recently uh you had a agovernor and a lieutenant governor uh who was native uh Native American theywere they were leading the charge for adult use cannabis legalization and they got that doneanother thing that Minnesota did last year was eliminate its drug paraphernalia law entirely and we have alegislative vehicle uh you know authored by house Judiciary chair uh David tarnesthat would get rid of our Drug paraphernal law entirely why is this important it’s important becauseparaphernalia Remains The Gateway into the criminal legal system for for people who use drugs was decriminalized it wasdecri I but it’s still used as a pretext to search so even if you have anunusable trace or residue of of of a controlled substance in that especiallyif it it represents a Class C fony so for example if you have a grain of of awhite powder drug or or something of that nature or again uh you know whetherit’s fentanyl or heroin or or something else you are still going to be chargedwith a class C felony that carries a a fine of 10,000 and a fiveyear can I expand on that yesdrug paraphernalia covers everything from Rolling Papers pipes and growingsupplies and testing supplies so it’s it’s pretty Broad in what they can getyou for so it I I really think that Hawaii should join uh Minnesota in eliminatingits stroke paraph law um the state of Alaska has never had a drug paraphernalia law so um let’s make ithappen here or two and some of the shortcomings of this bill uh and howwe’re we’re been strategizing to address them and working with individuals is is putting up separate bills um and kind ofremoving the conversation out uh from under legalization as a whole package and saying how can we accomplish thesethings uh on its own so uh just to put on everyone’s radar there are some bills relating to expungement expungement ofyour records if you do have a conviction of cannabis um or in some cases uhconvictions that should be expunged across the board a clean slate bill umso the Judiciary uh Committee in the house will be hearing three medical cannabis bills or excuse me two medicalcannabis bills and um a criminal history expungement bill um and that is going tobe um the jha committee on 131 actually that happened already no yeah it didokay we’re in February now we are in February absolutely too quick um but these are um one of them is to uhrequire the department of help to adopt rules and circumstances in which medical cannabis may be transported betweenindividuals um between islands things of that nature um and then the decriminalization or the excuse meexpungement bill is up for um hearing as well so again a strategy that we have ifwe can’t get it going from the attorney general standpoint um on expungement which they’ve been resistant to we willintroduce a separate measure so it’s not kind of throwing the baby out with the bath water and saying we should kill allmeasures because it doesn’t have everything we need we will find other other ways and opportunities to supportum our initiatives so how does that work in terms of this large comprehensivelegalization um U bill that the Attorney General created that’s all this badstuff but then we’re all using it to try to say no put good stuff in so that’s comprehensive and then we have all ofthese alart bills that are getting different pieces so what happens if they all keepmoving do they all consolidate into one thing no but I mean no realistically howdoes that um it’s a great question can I can I offer a preliminary opinion and Idon’t think anybody knows the answer to that until the legislature actually adjourns and we see what’s let’sspending um but in terms of this adult use legalization bill um I think it’svery widely assumed that the Senate you know is going to hear the bill it will take some amendments I hope it takes allof our amendments but I’m not counting on that um and the vehicle is going topass the Senate I think fairly quickly because we already have you know uh 80%plus majority who who voted for adult use legalization so you know it’s it’sno no real new new ground for them uh with the exception of of three m MERSwho I won’t name and give them publicity um but uh really quickly so it crossesover right um Taris may or may not hear it depending upon what the what thewinds are you know uh but the the other real hurdle here is the finance committee chaired by a yashida and uhsome of his members and you know we have just just just to not how differentthings are here in Havi we have two out gay members of the legislature and they are not110% in support of of adult use cannabis legalization and it it’s kind ofexploding my mind actually um that we have that here so um so The Connectionhuh I don’t see the conne orientation and Har Mel oh okay don’t you don’t youremember Harvey Mel having his it was he was a cannabis performer in the 70s and it’s and it’s personal choice andautonomy right I mean I’m not saying that you know those those of us who are queer you know are choosing that thatfashion but it’s absolutely how do we want to live our lives and users areforced into the closet right exactly or even in the even in the context ofmedical care you know when when your doctor asks you if you use cannabis it’s like what incentive is there for you toto be honest at Le are young men right these are young men just well thank youfor asking that question because you know I just make the leap right um butyeah um so we have roughly 20 minutes left um I want to go over a few more things before we open up for Q from theback sure it’s a greatquestion so so the federal government right now um is seriously considering moving it from schedule one to schedulethree um and it’s a big discussion in the Cannabis Community right now what’s the best course of action um notspeaking on behalf of the Coalition but for myself an individual who’s who’s looked at this issue I would like to seeit descheduled completely it shouldn’t it shouldn’t exist on any CSA at all umthe difficulty of when it goes to schedule three um is that it can providesome opportunities in the Cannabis space but the big question is who is going to capitalize on that opportunity and as itcurrently stands in the cannabis uh Community Nationwide it’s those who have money and power and influence um so wehave to be careful about when they do reschedule which they they probably will um about setting up a program and thisis why it’s so important that what we do here in Hawaii and what this Coalition is doing to make all of the uhopportunities go towards individuals who live operate um and have equal accessacross the board um it will provide some banking opportunities um possibly umBanks May loosen up a little bit um and allow uh individuals to bank um maybe some credit unions will be a little bitmore um open to it but again to be determined yetu business expenses umquestion from the back yes I’ve been to in thear producer process and theywere told by their Banks because of the current law being included in any of allthis but being included of all this IR were assured that they would be having theirinsurance canell and they would have no banking ability and all their Bank notes would be called in if they tried to growhemp next year now how is we’re going to protect our here in Hawai in the samefashion because at all that is like is killingFarmers what he’s doing by his action supports being included inetis already legal we don’t need to associate something considered illegal and then wipe out a small industry whichis Crush how de the question is why is hempbeing included in the Canabis Authority when the hemp industry you know faces somany roadblocks and obstacles and has not really been allowed to be brought online in a significant fashion here inHawaii and I just say I I’ve been talking to to him Farmers a bit I talked to Gail from from Hawaii island and toto some folks from Hawaii and from Maui as well and the point is well taken thatwe have you know Federal authorization for him we have a state law thatauthorizes him but you know the Devil comes in the in the regul in the regulatory approach of our of ourdepartments right and we they are not operating you know effectively or evenin accord with the law um we need a rule of Statute not and not Empowerbureaucrats to give their per to inject their personal prejudices um and that that is why Ithink it’s critically important that any cannabis Authority be like a a liquor Authority and that if you are aprohibitionist or if you’ve been aligned with organizations that have been prohibitionist in the past you have nobusiness being anywhere near the regulatory Authority um I think that you know be because Gailknows you know representative tarnis quite well they she’s been in her ear uh she’s been in his ear um and the thehemp Community needs to to quite frankly Sound the Alarm because you are theCanary in the regulatory Coal Mine where you can have everything together right you can even have a lot of licensesthroughout the state you know dozens in every County and yet because ofregulatory overreach you can’t functionally operatein a manner that will sustain your livelihood or the livelihood of your employees so the way we’ve approachedhemp thus far in the state the way we’ve even approached the medical Canabis industry such as it is these are verycautionary tales about how govern even with good laws in place we need regulRegulators who who are honest transparent and not injecting their own agenda intointo into the the economic sector and and to note what’s in thecurrent bill essentially states that everything regarding to the plant which includes hemp would fall under thisAuthority so the things that we are unknown still yet are what the authority is going to do and I think you knowthere’s there’s two two ways you could go the The Authority could listen to The Hemp industry and say okay nothingchanges you know or at least currently and we’ll work on on some Provisions The Authority is the individual now that youhave to go Lobby and discuss changes with or the authority could then wrap hemp under the same Provisions that uhcannabis THC cannabis sold in the market would look like uh So currently and I think this is one of the difficulties ofthis bill especially when it comes to licensing when it comes to um how these uh licenses will be distributed there’sno definitions there’s no specifics it just says this Authority shall do theseitems so even if the Bill does pass and it has say uh hemp roped into theauthority there will still be opportunity for the hemp industry and individuals invested in that space tothen Lobby The Regulators to either keep what’s here now make some significantchanges and hopefully prevent them from doing what you say which is uh roping it into the same regulatory framework anddouble regulation is expensive and not necessaryabsolutely on that and pretend we a drug and right and I think that’s a greatargument to make you know if if this does play out that way to bring to the state government and the state government loves to hear how they cansave money and have less responsibility in some spaces so they would be great tohear that if we can just leave it alone let the federal government do it and they not have to spend resources allowthat to continue and I think if the hemp group was able to you know really present that case in a very strongfashion there could be um some significant you know efforts made to make sure that the regulatory Authorityleaves it as is and let me just reiterate here it’s critically important in the long term or in the short termthat cids get rescheduled but it needs to be taken off the Controlled Substances Act entirely it neverbelonged there in the first place it was put there by Fiat it can be taken off by Fiat uh the Department of Health andHuman Services just submitted a whole host of documents to the drug enforcement AGC saying cannabis is saferthan alcohol cannabis has a 10,000 year history with Humanity 10,000 years and90 years ago we say oh well this is dangerous it’s like come on and they even recognized the medical usefulnessof it yeah so we for the first time in 2009 in2019 uh the havayi legislature passed HCR 89 uh which called for the passageof what was was then called the safe Banking Act and it also called for the removal of cannabis from the ControlledSubstances Act so I’m I’m going to seek to ensure that another resolution is passed this year it’s non-binding but itsends a message to Congress take cannabis out of the control Substances ActRight There is a doctor here Dr Cliff aoto who has been working on trying toget it out of the schedule one drug category just in the state using um anexemption process that was used um by a Native American church forpeyote so so for the last 10 minutes or so of our of our discussion I do want toleave us on a high note I know we’ve been talking about a lot of difficulties and the pains and hardships you know andthis panel individuals on this panel people in this room have been working really really hard in some instances fordecades on this issue um the drug policy form of Hawaii which some of us on thispanel have been a part of for a long time has now just been absorbed to Triple HRC um who’s going to continuethat great work which is uh super exciting because they have been a huge Powerhouse for drug harm or uh drugreform and harm reduction in the state but there are some things in this bill that I think that we should note thatare some significant progress from our current system so um personal possessionand cultivation outside of being a patient so if you if you’re a patient in Hawaii in the medical system you willcontinue to have your rights to grow your plants at Home your 10 plants you can still continue to have that but ifyou’re not a patient you decide not to go get your card you can cultivate up to six mature plants at home so it’s alittle bit less than if you’re a medical card holder but then it would exempt anyone from Criminal prosecution um forsix plants or more if you’re over the age of 21 one of the hardesttoate many people don’t have the abilityabsolutely right correct so that’s one of our biggest challenges is trying to preserve the Legacy Growers and not letthe multi State operators come in and this bill does continue to allow caregiversto grow for individuals um and I think that’s another big win that we can say that is going to be taken away if thisthing does pass you can you can designate someone to grow for you um it does have uh different licensing optionsum it’s a it’s a deviates from what we currently have which is a vertically integrated system it’s a horizontalsystem so then it would open up licensing and cultivation and business opportunities for everyone in the stateand I think that’s really important to note um and when discussing how that works for for the space and in Hawaiiyou know we are now 11 years behind the continent in terms of of businessopportunities and making this uh an industry and the the longer we wait and this is just my opinion the the the morecompetition we’re going to have as we see currently um we have a huge influx of of cannabis from other states in ourin our on our streets and we aren’t going to be able to keep up with what happens uh interstate commerce is goingto be coming very soon California Oregon in Washington are entering a pact um to do some interstate commerce sooner orlater that’s going to happen in our state and we need to make sure that individuals who want to be in this space have the the legal infrastructure goingto have grow sites that aren’t being rated um have individuals who are up to speed on the regulations so that as soonas that pin drops they’re able to export cannabis to different states um able to have a robust Market um some otherthings in the bill that are um I would say big pluses given our conversation inthe past that there is a pretty uh significant social Equity piece attached to it as a core provision it’s one ofthe core tenants and I think um a lot of that work can can be given to uh creditbe given to Nikos um the the task force on social Equity they actually accepteda lot of those uh recommendations on the task force to make sure that proceeds the tax revenue that the state doescollect go towards reinvestment into social Equity applicants so waving feesso if there’s a say a a a $5,000 fee to get a license they would wave the fee ifyou’re considered a social Equity applicant they would also provide small business um input and and assistance toget your business up and running it’ll also provide you grants to get things like equipment things of that naturewhich we’ve seen in other states is crucial because access to Capital is is one big big area um H because you can’thave a bank you can’t go get a loan right so you have to have access to Capital to build your growth siteum so that’s included in the bill and and my hope is that we can raise thealarm about these things as well so that if this thing does pass we have individuals who are in Hai who have thisexperience ready to go and put their their papers in hands down so that we don’t get pushed out by say uh intereststhat are coming in from other states that want these licenses as well right questionthat that says amount of these lies are going to go throughthe question wasr yeah rightcorrect correct it’s a great question can you repeat the question so the question is essentially um does the billum give preference to native Hawaiian specifically um and the the issue aroundthis is and we have all um outwardly expressed that there is a desire that should happen but legally um in terms oflegal jargon and and how the attorneys interpret things that can’t happen um onpaper straight up and it’s the same thing as it’s same thing as uh you know preventing individuals from outside thatthat aren’t residents from getting a license same thing when buying homes here there’s there’s a legal barrieraround that so what we have done is suggested what other states have also done is looking at zip codes areas thathave been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and this is areas that are heavily uh residents of nativeHawaiian communities I think I think another really important provision that can help further uh native Hawaiian uhinterests is to have an organiz I think having the council for the nativeHawaiian advancment being one of the regulators and making sure that native Hawaiians are at the table at thehighest level of of decision making and I I think knowing you know some of thepeople who work there that that they do do have the interests of our rural native Hawaiian communities at heart andthat that’s the way you get equities to to put it in the bones of the regulatorystructure both in terms of the commission you know you know the the diversity of Licensing um eventually wecan hopefully get to a craft Canabis landscape where that includes directconsumer sales the roadside we we can really think about how do we Empowerindividual farmers and small business businessmen to participate in their local economy so for short answer doesit have it specifically no but there are ways to achieve that through policy that don’t state that would run into legalissues um and rest assured this this Coalition is very focused on putting those issues up front um another greatthing about this bill is in terms of Licensing it does limit how large squarefoot of grows can be and the the purpose behind this again it came from the the Dual use task force is to make make surethat we don’t have the glass houses of the Cannabis industry which have over you know 200,000 square fet of canopyspace in a certain location that can dominate the market because they have the capital is keep it low make sure ourcanopy space is is a low so it attracts local small businesses instead of largecorporate entities that want to come in and be the Monsanto of cannabis right umand it does have these Provisions uh currently it allows no more than 10,000 square ft canopy for an indoor grow5,000 for an outdoor grow now I think individuals should comment on that because you know personally I feel likethose numbers should be adjusted a little bit we want to make sure individuals that have the opportunity to to grow outdoors have enough space forthat um the attorney generals are not experts on how to grow cannabis so we need input U on what that looks like uhbut you know for the most part it it is focusing on small entities in Hawaii sothose current licenses that have more than like 5,000 foot of grbe allow to it to be determined So currently in law um cannabis defensseries can only have 7500 plants there’s no uh space up to 7500 plants uh 5,000is kind of the the the limit you can ask for a little bit more if you want but to be determined on how the regulatoryAuthority will approach that right and I think that’s a really good question to continue to raise and say how the theindividuals who are currently licensed be grandfathered in are they going to be held to the same standard uh and whatwhat how they’re going to work that out in the long run am I correct that the bill alsosuggests like as the size of the grow increases that the person running that grow has to pay moresomething negative so on on the topic of tax um the tax rate has been set at um15% at the at the max um so it’s going to be a 10% tax on top of the G G taxessentially gets us to 15% um you know in terms of nationally that’s pretty lowso it’s it’s a good relatively good thing for for businesses I mean a tax on cannabis is tough pill to swallow for abusiness entity that’s already in a really difficult one of the hardest Industries to make a dollar is in theCannabis space um given federal regulations and others but that money will you know again we’re really pushingto make sure that 15% tax that is taken out are reinvested back into our communities get back to those socialEquity applicants made sure they had equal opportunity I would love to see some incubator programs like uh the hoodincubator in California um like Sacramento has implemented where they have uh taken tax money to to set up umgrow facilities that people can come use they don’t have to buy their own grow facility So Randy is it 15 like G forinstance if you sell to a retailer that’s 15% and then the retailer sellsto the consumer that’s 15% great question so is that great question is that what’s happening so the the greatthing about what Hawaii has done is they have made it only at the point of sale okay so it’s at the very end of the supply chain one of the difficultiesthat California has had that’s at every kind of point of the way right you’re paying your tax when you you distributeto your distributor when you get from your seller when you get from your grower we have kind of let them knowthat that is not something we want to replicate in Hawaii will we ever I mean the the tax model and the and theexpenses of growing will we get um Adult Ed cannabis recreational uh to the pointwhere it’s more affordable than Crystal math so greatquestion when it comes tobusiness sure I mean the other difficulty about running a business in the Cannabis space is uh at leastfederally Hawaii did a great thing to allow you to write your taxes off locally but you can’t write taxes off for business expenses ferally so we havesome cannabis businesses in Hawaii who have actually operated at a loss for years but are still paying taxes to thefederal government so they’re they’re it’s it’s a difficult environment that we have to make ends me if if I couldmake reference to some of my recent retail experiences in delu States includingNevada in California and and Arizona for that matter Arizona is an adult uselegalized State you can actually get you know a packet of gummies with 100 migstotal for under well under the cost of a of a sixpack of Premium you know alocker or beer and so um back back when I first came across a cannabis infusedchocolates from Kaa this was in the around 2014 15 I think it was they had 120 migsfor $15 and it was good chocolate too and and I I was a registered uh patient atthe time I was like there is nothing I’d rather do than do thisyeah well we we are at our limit ter take one more one morequestion separ good question um So currently in the bill there are nospecific number limit um again one of the challenges of the bill is that it gives the the regulatoryAuthority kind of the broad-base uh ability to create that so there could beif this bill passes that if the regulatory gets together and says oh we’re only going to do 10 licenses they could say that and I think that’s whereif this bill passed to get the community together to say there should be no caps there should be um you know X Y or z umalso it gives the authority the ability to to do new licenses so the bill does have just your regular cultivation yourretail things of that nature but it allows the authority to to put in say delivery licenses consumption loungesthings of that if they’re they’re Lobby to do so and I think there’s a strength in that and there’s a weakness in thatthe strength is that we can come together as an organization or as a community go to the authority and nothave to go to the legislature to lobby for that not have to convince our elected officials that are worried about their elections and campaign donationswe’re talking to regulatory bodies that are hopefully um responsive to this issueum number to go up where tax right nowtaxone ofs correct so thisbe absolutely completely agreed how are Regulators chosenokay got it we’re about wrapping up Regulators at least currently um are going to be appointed positions and bythe governor by the governor by correct um I will leave you with this is that uhthis conversation is ongoing at the legislature shape this this process with all of you involved and we should cometo the table discuss what we don’t like but also highlight what we do like uh we have the opportunity to to make thathappen this year um there’s a there’s maybe a little bit more than a 50% chance it happens if not this year thennext year is going to be a big year as well so stay engaged come visit us um and ask how you can get involved andwe’ll continue to send out um alerts look for the no more drug war Banner nountil 7 tonight I hope the Heckler com thank you all please come talk to usafterwards you yeahtotally