None of the bills aimed at improving or expanding Hawaii’s decade-old medical marijuana law survived the legislative chopping block, but pot advocates still won a significant battle this week.
According to ACLU Hawaii, the state Department of Public Safety’s Narcotics Enforcement Division placed “heavy-handed and prohibitive requirements” on physicians who prescribe medical cannabis, including banning house calls and forcing doctors to “register” all locations where they meet with patients to discuss medical marijuana (with other prescription narcotics, ACLU says, only the facility where the drugs are stored has to be registered).
ACLU says DPS ignored repeated inquiries but that after reaching out to the state Attorney General “to avoid litigation,” they were assured the policies would be changed.
“Hawaii’s medical cannabis law was established to help doctors alleviate the suffering of very ill and dying patients,” said ACLU attorney Daniel Gluck in a release. “In implementing this law, the legislature chose to allow DPS to oversee the program, which has led to 11 years of administrators applying a criminal control model to a public health issue.” That about sums it up—and explains why ten years later we’re no closer to making the law work.
Puff, Puff, Bypass
If there’s one thing people in Paia—and people who visit Paia—like to complain about more than parking, it’s traffic. And while a deal between the County and Alexander & Baldwin that will keep the Paia “mini-bypass” open 24 hours a day, seven days a week likely won’t end the complaining or the gridlock, it’ll help.
“The people of Paia, Haiku and other East Maui communities have suffered enough,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa in a statement released ahead of the May 11 opening. “Traffic heading into Paia Town is backed up past Spreckelsville on a daily basis. Sometimes as far back as the Kaunoa Senior Center. I want people to know that we have heard their cries for help.”
The bypass—which was built five years ago on land owned by A&B—was previously open only from 1-6:30pm. The deal to open it full-time required the County to assume liability, which led to delays but ultimately didn’t derail the effort.
Sorry, Cuba Gooding Jr.—you gave it your best shot. The Oscar-winning actor was among those who testified in favor of a bill that would have set up permanent production studios on Oahu and Maui and offered tax breaks to filmmakers who shoot on-location in Hawaii. The idea was to juice the economy, but lawmakers heard “tax breaks,” stared at the deep, red hole that is the state deficit and yelled, “cut!”
The argument, apparently, is that Hawaii is alluring enough to draw Hollywood dollars regardless. And there’s some evidence for that—TV shows like Lost and Hawaii Five-O and major movies like the forthcoming Pirates of the Caribbean sequel have all come, bringing beaucoup bucks with them.
But it’s also not uncommon for studios to look elsewhere. Even some movies set in Hawaii aren’t actually shot here, like the 2009 thriller A Perfect Getaway, which was supposed to take place on Kauai but was actually filmed largely in Puerto Rico—which, not coincidentally, offers major tax incentives.
Then again, if the “Show Me the Money Guy” wasn’t persuasive enough, it was probably a lost cause.