Pubdate: Mon, 21 May 2001
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2001 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: Donald M. Topping


The opening sentence of your May 15 editorial on the Supreme Court
ruling on medical marijuana is misleading, thereby adding to the
confusion surrounding this widely publicized decision.

The court's decision did not "throw out California's 'medical marijuana'
law ... " as claimed. Nor did the decision have any impact on Hawai'i's

The decision focused on a very specific question: Could the Oakland
Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative use the medical defense to justify
distribution of medical marijuana to patients? The answer was clearly
no. By extension, the court's negative decision would apply to other
persons or organizations that distribute cannabis to patients ... or
anyone else.

Hawai'i's law does not permit distribution. Each of Hawai'i's 187
registered patients, at most recent count, or the patient's caregiver,
is authorized to grow his or her own in specified amounts.

While marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, the risk of
prosecution for medical use is statistically very slight. Throughout the
nation, federal authorities make less than 1 percent of marijuana
arrests; state and local police account for the other 99 percent.

Are the feds likely to ratchet up their war on medical marijuana users?
I hardly think so. Since nearly 80 percent of voters support the use of
marijuana as medicine, prosecutors would have a hard time finding a jury
willing to convict.

Donald M. Topping
President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i
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