Rep. Gabbard Denounces AG Sessions’ Escalation of Failed War on Drugs

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Following an announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the Obama-era, non-interference policy and targeting states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) denounced his decision on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, and called on Congress to pass H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which removes marijuana from the federal controlled substances list.

Congresswoman Gabbard said:

“Attorney General Sessions’ reversal of the current non-interference policy that essentially allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference, tramples on states’ rights and is a dangerous escalation of the failed so-called War on Drugs. This overreach by the federal government undermines state governments like Hawaii’s that have legalized medical marijuana and threatens the livelihoods and rights of the people of Hawai‘i and those of the 29 states and Washington DC who have legalized some form of marijuana.

“This decision reinforces our outdated and destructive policies on marijuana that turn everyday Americans into criminals, tear families apart, and waste billions of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for nonviolent marijuana charges. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent tackling the many problems that plague the American people including combating the opioid epidemic, ensuring affordable housing, repairing aging infrastructure, and investing in education, healthcare, veterans’ care, and more.

“By continuing to pour billions of dollars down the drain with our archaic marijuana policies, we stifle our economy, society, and criminal justice system and leave the people of Hawai‘i and millions more devastated – all for a substance that is far less dangerous and harmful than alcohol. Our laws should accurately reflect scientific consensus – not misplaced stigma and outdated myths about marijuana.

“I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the federal controlled substances list, treating it the same as alcohol and tobacco. Our bipartisan legislation will end this unnecessary and costly debate once and for all by federally decriminalizing marijuana and kick-starting long overdue, common sense criminal justice reform.”

Congresswoman Gabbard is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list, as part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform.

Former Hawaiʻi County Paramedic Receives National Recognition

Michael Brigoli has followed a career path from Army medic to Hawaiʻi County firefighter paramedic to medical student.

His next step is to become a doctor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Brigoli is earning national accolades on the way.

The 43-year-old, non-traditional student is one of only seven future physicians selected by the American Association of Medical Colleges to appear on its Anatomy of an Applicant: Demonstrating Core Competencies website.

He was nominated by JABSOM Admissions Director Ivy Nip-Asano.

Michael Brigoli. Courtesy photo.

Brogoli enlisted in the U.S. Army after leaving college without a degree. He was trained as a medic and after his military commitment, he became a Hawaiʻi County firefighter. As a paramedic in the rural community where he grew up, he resolved to become a doctor.

“I would arrive at emergency scenes [as a paramedic] and ask a patient who their doctor was, and they would tell me the name of the emergency room physician,” said Brigoli. “They didn’t have their own doctor. Hawaiʻi Island has the least amount of physicians taking care of our population. After a while I just thought, we need to do something.”

Doing something took audacity. With the support of his wife and two sons, Brigoli sold the family’s Big Island home and moved everyone to Oʻahu, where he completed his college degree at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu. He was accepted into the medical school in 2015.

Brigoli was impressed by JABSOM’s strong commitment to Native Hawaiian health and to training and graduating Native Hawaiian physicians.

Michael Brigoli is congratulated at JABSOM for being named a Kahanamoku Scholar, 2017. Courtesy photo.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t think that being a physician was something that I could do,” said Brigoli. “I didn’t know any Native Hawaiian physicians. I didn’t know anybody from my background, having attended three different public high schools (Pāhoa High, Castle High and Waipahu High, from which he graduated). There weren’t a lot of people from my demographic that went on to become physicians.”

Brigoli is scheduled to graduate with his medical degree in May 2019. After completing his post-graduate training, everyone knows where he will likely be practicing medicine—on Hawaiʻi Island, where he is needed the most.

See Brogoli’s complete profile here.

See the full story, which includes a video, on the JABSOM website.