Pubdate: Sun, 20 May 2001
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Author: Donald M. Topping


Your May 15 editorial on the Supreme Court's decision on medical
marijuana adds to the confusion about what this decision means for
Hawaii and the eight other states that have authorized medical use of

The decision will have no impact on Hawaii's law, or that of any other
state that protects certified patients from arrest by state authorities
for possessing and using marijuana as medicine. 

Although federal prohibition of marijuana for any use remains unchanged,
states may continue to pass and operate under their own laws. Given that
nearly 99 percent of all marijuana arrests in the nation are made by
state and local officials, the likelihood of prosecution for using
medical marijuana is slight.

As you stated, the court's "ruling addresses the narrow area of
organized manufacturing and distribution of marijuana" by the Oakland
Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative. Obviously, the decision would extend to
any other organized effort at distribution. Since Hawaii's law permits
certified patients and/or their caregivers to grow their own supply, the
court's decision does not present a conflict.

May I add that the Hawaii law does not permit physicians to prescribe
marijuana. Nor does it permit physicians to administer it to patients in
privacy, as claimed in your editorial. 

A physician may recommend only. It is up to the patient to obtain and
administer, which is what the 187 registered patients (latest count) are

Donald M. Topping
President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii
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