Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Hawaiian papaya and banana growers have joined cattlemen and floral producers to fight a ban on open-air growing and testing of genetically modified crops imposed by the Hawaii County Council.

The ban exempts existing papaya crops and growers. However, no new acres can be planted, according to the case filed June 9 in federal court. Hawaii County includes the entire Island of Hawaii. A scheduling hearing is set Sept. 8.

Growers say the ban — known as Bill 113 — conflicts with state and federal laws and is unconstitutional, according to the case filed by the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association (HPIA) and the Big Island Banana Growers Association. Other plaintiffs joining in the case include the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, the Pacific Floral Exchange and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The Hawaii County Council approved Bill 113 in December with a 6-3 vote. It requires existing GMO growers to annually register and pay a $100 fee. In another court action, a judge recently ruled the county cannot make public growers’ personal information and specific field locations collected in the registry.

Growers challenged publication of the registry saying it would encourage vandalism, which has previously resulted in crop destruction.

Hawaii’s papaya industry was nearly destroyed by ringspot virus in the early 1990s, and development of the Rainbow variety was the industry’s answer. The Rainbow variety passed federal review and was first planted in 1998. According to court documents, at least 85% of the papaya crop grown on Hawaii Island is Rainbow.

“Bill 113 has stigmatized HPIA members by conveying a false message that (GMO) crops and plants harm human health and the environment and has imposed other costs on HPIA,” according to the lawsuit.

Banana growers, including Richard Ha who is a plaintiff in the federal case, contend they need the option to test and possibly plant GMO bananas to mitigate threats from bunchy top virus and other diseases.

More here: Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

DOE Releases Income Eligibility Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price Meals

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is announcing its policy for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Copies of the policy are available at public schools.

Children from households with income at or below the following levels are eligible for free or reduced-price meals:

INCOME CHART: Effective from July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

INCOME CHART: Effective from July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out one application and return it to the school where the child is enrolled or complete an online application via ezmealapp.com. Applications for the current school year (2014-2015) are now being accepted. The application information will be used to determine eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials.

For DOE officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF must list the child’s name, date of birth, grade, school code and their SNAP or TANF case number and the signature and name of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list: 1) the names of everyone in the household; 2) the amount of income received by each person, how often the income is received and the source of the income; 3) the name and social security number of either parent/guardian who is the primary wage earner or the adult household member who signs the form or the word “none” if neither adult household member has a social security number; and 4) the signature of an adult household member.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, the DOE will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request for a hearing on the decision in writing to:

Name of Hearing Official: Glenna Owens, SFA Director
Address: 1106 Koko Head Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816

Phone Number: (808) 733-8414 or toll-free 1-800-441-4845

In certain cases foster children are also eligible for school meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for them, the household should contact the school for more information.

The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

North Hawaii Community Hospital to Participate in RIMPAC Exercise

North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) will participate in the world’s largest, multinational, maritime exercise, known as RIMPAC, this Friday, July 11th.

North Hawaii Community Hospital

North Hawaii Community Hospital

More than 22 nations participate in RIMPAC, which takes place in and around the Hawaiian Islands from June 26 to August 1, 2014. This is only the second time in RIMPAC history that US hospitals have participated in the maritime exercise.

“NHCH will participate in the state-wide exercise, working with other agencies and hospitals to test communication and coordination of Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief efforts,” says Jennifer Rabalais, NHCH Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator. In addition, four NHCH employees were chosen, via lottery, to participate in a RIMPAC exercise meant to simulate the evacuation of patients to island hospitals after a hurricane hits the fictitious island nation of Griffon. “The four NHCH employees will fly to Honolulu, where they will be moulaged, the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training Emergency Response Teams and other medical and military personnel, to simulate “injured patients”. After passing through a simulated triage process, the “injured patients” will be transported to NHCH for care via military Blackhawk helicopter.

This year’s RIMPAC exercise is the 24th in the series that began in 1971. Forty-nine surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate. The 22 nations represented include: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Participating in RIMPAC will provide us with an opportunity to test the hospital’s ability to handle the simultaneous arrival of multiple trauma casualties, says Rabalais.” “The relationships that are forged at RIMPAC span oceans and years,” says Vice Admiral Kenneth E. Floyd, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet; Commander RIMPAC Exercise via Navy Live, the official blog of the United States Navy. He continued, “ask any veteran of RIMPACs past, and they will tell you that what stands out most in their memory is the chance to work alongside sailors of different navies and ships of different nations, improving their skills and building trust so that when we are called upon to respond to a crisis or disaster, we are ready to respond as a team.”

Commentary – If You Are Reading This Letter… I Am Either in Jail or On My Way

Commentary:

If you are reading this letter… I am either in jail or on my way. Please read…

On June 18, 2014 I was sentenced as the last defendant in the Roger Christie THC Ministry Federal conspiracy case also known as the “Green 14”. Before my guilty plea to a minor distribution charge I was the only remaining defendant that had refused to make a deal. I was waiting to go to trial with Roger when he finally decided to make a deal to plead to conspiracy with time served and allowing for his RFRA motion to be appealed in the 9th circuit.

Until that day in June I had been on “pre-trial” release, a supervised release on a $25,000 signature bond. For the previous 4 years since my arrest. Conditions set forth banned me from using my State certified Medical Marijuana that I used to treat my debilitating condition from a rare tropical disease called esenophilic meningitis a.k.a. “rat lung worm” a devastating infection of nematodes that cross the blood-brain barrier and infected my head/brain. I have suffered nerve damage, brain damage, neuropathy and chronic pain and stiffness 24/7.

I was subjected to over 100 drug tests over the last four year with ZERO positive results. All the while I was allowed to use the dangerous narcotic Percoet, Xanax and Nortriptiline. I had tried every other possible medication the list too long. My disease is know to be so heinous because there is NO cure or treatment available. Cannabis helped tremendously but the Feds said no. I suffered for 4 years.

I motioned the court to take a legal substitute Marinol but I was initially denied and offered to take another THC-like medication that would not test positive as THC. The drug test cannot differentiate between the two, was the US attorney Kuwahara’s contention. Well is was all a ruse. That medication was not available in Hawaii, the cost was $1,400-$1,700 a month, my insurance would NOT cover it AND pharmacies would not order such an expensive medication without payment up front.

This left me zero choice but Marinol. Thy prosecution said I could get Cesamet at Walgreens, this was patently untrue. I was denied. My inept lawyer, whom I fired later for “not zealously defending” me (Quote from Judge Kobiashi at hearing)

I suffered greatly those 4 years. Fearful that a civil disobedience by myself to take the only non-toxic, dangerous medicine because I was facing a 5 year mandatory minimum in Federal prison. I decided to readdress the issue after I had the charges reduced or was acquitted at trial.

I forced the US attorney to drop the conspiracy charges that I WAS NOT PART OF and they stipulated, in writing that I was not. My sentencing guidelines put me at 0-6 months with -3 years possible probation. I was sentenced to ZERO time, given 2 years probation with the possibility it be done in one if I was all good. In the sentencing report it stated I could not posses or use marijuana or any other form of THC UNLESS… get this, unless approved by my probation officer! Wow I thought, finally relief at the end of this nightmare tunnel.

Upon leaving the courtroom the supervisor/deputy probation officer told me that there was NO WAY I would be allowed to use my MMJ or LEGAL Marinol. He said “they never have, never will.” I stated that it was up to the probation officer on the Big Island, my home. He said that there was NO WAY the Big Island PO would allow it…they never have and never will.

I was at an impasse…I could no longer continue to digest Percocet and Ibuprofen daily, it has put me in great danger and risk because of their inherent toxicity on the liver, kidneys and stomach. I was no longer facing a minimum 5 year sentence only 0-6 months. Judge Kobayashi told me that she gave me 2 years probation instead of 1 “just in case I had any ‘bumps’ along the way”. Well here is the first bump.

I received another prescription for Marinol from my doctor and had it filled (paid cash because Medicaid would not pay) I took my legally prescribed medication. I found relief… FINALLY!
The next day I had to report to my PO for the first time oat home on the Big Island. Officer Jenkins informed me that he would not honor my legal MMJ blue card OR allow me my legal Marinol (too late for that) I tested positive for THC. He was not happy. I told him of my legal script, he cared less. He told me if the test came back confirmed as THC he would revoke my probation!

Nine days later the UA returned from the lab Positive for THC with no differentiation between marijuana and Marinol. My PO said he was going to revoke me. I told him thank you and shook his hand. Today the 8th of June I return to the testing facility for another UA. I have continued o take my Marinol. In fact, as it turned out the insurance DID approve my Marinol. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a second bottle that was twice the potency/milligrams as the first. Today I will test positive again for my legal script… again.

I have had multiple Constitutional violations committed against me PLUS a few ADA violations since I am disabled and receive Federal SSI benefits. I cannot wait to be on the other side of a revocation hearing waiting for the machine to spit me out all over again. I have prepared a brief, pro se and am going to file suit against the feds, the probation department, my PO, his supervisor and the deputy chief of probation for the district of Hawaii.

I was denied due process on many levels, I have been discriminated, the decision to not allow me to use medicine that others ARE allowed to use (including other federal probationers…(see U.S. V.Steele Smith ). Also, this treatment is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. I will no longer lay down and suffer, I will stand up for my rights and the rights of all others who face similar treatment by the Federal government.

Please help me in any ,and all ways possible. I need financial assistance with costs ensured with filing fees, transportation to and from Honolulu, as much media and press as possible including blogs, posts, internet news and social media.

Aaron Zeeman

Aaron Zeeman

Thank you and Aloha, Aaron Zeeman (aaronzeeman@yahoo.com)

Free Kids Sports Physicals Available July 19th

Keiki up to 18 years old can receive a free sports physical on July 19 in Hilo under a partnership between Hawai‘i County, the nonprofit For Hearts and Souls and Sportz Viz.

countylogo

The “No Athlete Left Behind” sports physical program will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at Pana‘ewa Park. Lead physician Dr. Kirk Milhoan, a Maui pediatric cardiologist and medical director of For Hearts and Souls, will perform sports physicals and echocardiographic screenings to rule out hidden conditions that could cause sudden cardiac arrest during strenuous activity.

Sportz Viz will take reservations for 25 athletes for each of four, two-hour blocks. Walk-in patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Parents must bring the appropriate physical form for their child’s school or association.

Tax-deductible donations will be accepted and used to provide cardiac care to children throughout the world.

To reserve a space or obtain more information, please contact Thane Milhoan of Sportz Viz at (808) 938-6805 or info@sportzviz.com.

Hawaii’s State and County Leaders Formalize Joint Sustainability Commitment

“Aloha+ Challenge” Sets 6 Targets by 2030

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s four county mayors, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) leadership jointly launched the Aloha+ Challenge: A Culture of Sustainability – He Nohona ‘Ae‘oia at a declaration signing held today at the Hawaii State Capitol. The statewide joint leadership commitment sets clear targets for clean energy transformation, local food production, natural resource management, waste reduction, smart growth, climate resilience, green jobs and education by 2030.

Government leaders sign the Aloha+ Challenge.

Government leaders sign the Aloha+ Challenge.

“The Aloha+ Challenge brings us all together across jurisdictions, agencies, sectors and communities to build a sustainable Hawaii for current and future generations,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who as a member of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience is in a strong position to provide recommendations on how the federal government can support local efforts outlined today. “The targets transcend political timelines with a longer-term vision that also calls upon us to take bold action now. As a microcosm of the world’s sustainability challenges, it is time for Hawaii to become a global model of how to develop innovative and collaborative solutions.”

The Hawaii State Legislature unanimously passed the Aloha+ Challenge through resolution this year. Hawaii Green Growth, which brings together key leaders from federal, state, county, business and nonprofit organizations, hosted the declaration signing to show broad support.

Photo by Sen. J Kalani English

Photo by Sen. J Kalani English

Hawaii’s commitment to the Aloha+ Challenge is already creating international attention. With the U.S. Department of State, Hawaii has been invited to announce the Aloha+ Challenge on the world stage at a high-level Global Island Partnership event in Samoa this September, during the United Nations’ International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which focuses on sustainable development.

“Alternative energy sources like H-Power, solar and wind, combined with fewer car trips and reduced energy consumption, will help us sustain our island for future generations,” said City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “We have to invest in our future, and now is the time to do it.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Aloha+ Challenge Dedication Signing and Press Conference.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Aloha+ Challenge Dedication Signing and Press Conference.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said: “The Aloha+ Challenge is about protecting our Hawaii and maximizing our resources to improve the quality of life for our communities. It reinforces that our decision-making as a state must focus on sustaining our resources for generations to come, and must be rooted in aloha.”

“The Aloha+ Challenge is about leading by example,” Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said. “Our goal is to provide a higher quality of life for our children, and to build a community for our grandchildren that they can be proud of.”

“We are a state separated by ocean, but we are connected in so many ways – by families, by businesses and by shared values and traditions,” said Mayor Bernard Carvahlo of Kauai County. “It is important for us to always remember that. When our leadership focuses on one vision, we are united.”

“We must honor our past while also preparing for our future,” said Kamana‘opono Crabbe, chief executive officer for OHA. “The active participation of the community partners in this effort will also play a major role in bringing about a better, brighter future for all people of Hawaii.”

Photo from Gov. Abercrombie's Twitter feed.

Photo from Gov. Abercrombie’s Twitter feed.

In addition to sharing tools and knowledge and expanding partnerships, Hawaii’s top elected officials have agreed to develop a joint system of tracking progress and to increase long-term financing mechanisms for conservation and sustainability programs geared towards reaching the 2030 targets.

The Aloha+ Challenge commits Hawaii to reaching six targets by 2030:

  1. Clean Energy: 70 percent clean energy – 40 percent from renewables and 30 percent from efficiency (reinforcing the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative)
  2. Local Food: At least double local food production – 20 to 30 percent of food consumed is grown locally
  3. Natural Resource Management: Reverse the trend of natural resource loss mauka to makai by increasing freshwater security, watershed protection, community-based marine management, invasive species control and native species restoration
  4. Waste Reduction: Reduce the solid waste stream prior to disposal by 70 percent through source reduction, recycling, bioconversion and landfill diversion methods
  5. Smart Sustainable Communities: Increase livability and resilience in the built environment through planning and implementation at state and county levels
  6. Green Workforce and Education: Increase local green jobs and education to implement these targets

In 2011, Gov. Abercrombie signed Act 181, which established sustainability as a priority in the Hawaii State Plan and incorporated the definition, goals and principles of sustainability from the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan into Chapter 226. More than 10,000 citizens participated in the Hawaii 2050 planning process.

Permanent Building Helps College of Pharmacy Receive Extended Accreditation

In a report to the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the national accreditation body has extended the accreditation of the only pharmacy school in the Pacific region, reversing an earlier noncompliance finding.

UH Hilo Inouye College of Pharmacy

The American Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) has now found DKICP compliant with all of the 30 standards that it uses to evaluate colleges of pharmacy.

The main issue considered by the ACPE was compliance with the standard concerning physical facilities. In May this year, State House and Senate budget conferees agreed to fund a building to house the College on Hawaiʻi Island.

Chancellor Donald Straney: “I was secure in the knowledge that our community knew the value of the College of Pharmacy to the future, to the economy and to the general well-being of our State. I want to thank everyone involved for their continued support that led to the funding of a permanent building.”

In 2013, ACPE declared DKICP was out of compliance with the standard concerning physical facilities after which, without promise of a permanent building, could ultimately lead to probation. Founding Dean John Pezzuto said probation could have signaled the end of the College.

“If we had followed the path we were on just a year ago, I could be saying that we have been placed on probation, which would’ve been disastrous for the future of the College,” Pezzuto said. “It is heartening that our accreditation is once again secure, but we all must remain diligent and prepare for the next steps.”

The College now must complete a self-study due by September, to be followed by an on-site visit in October 2014. The results of the site visit and continuation of accreditation will be reviewed at the next ACPE Board meeting, to be held in January 2015.

BISAC Inviting Public to Its 50th Anniversary at Summer Jam 2014

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council is inviting the public to celebrate its 50th Anniversary at Summer Jam 2014. The free event will be at the Waiākea High Campus located on 155 W. Kawili Street in Hilo on July 26 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with the strongman competition starting at 7:00 am.

Summer Jam

The Summer Jam will feature a strongman contest as well as ‘ono food like roasted corn on the cob, Hawaiian Nachos from Aloha Lehua Cafe, wood fire pizza from @islandwoodfired, mochiko chicken from the Po‘okela Vocational Program, poke bowls from the Waiākea High School Athletic Booster Club, the Snow Factory and sweets from Hilo Bake Company. There will be crafts, a silent auction featuring an opportunity to bid on a car, free keiki activities including the Zoo Choo and an incredible entertainment line up featuring New Zealand pop sensations, J-Geeks.

Since 1964, the Big Island Substance Abuse Council has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives in the wake of the ravages of substance abuse. They offer a continuum of services that are culturally appropriate and aligned with the ever-changing behavioral health field.

“We are so grateful to have been able to serve the community for so many years. And we are incredibly grateful to all our sponsors, especially our title sponsors KTA and the Olson Trust, for making the event possible,” said BISAC CEO Hannah Preston-Pita.

Money raised from food and craft booths and the silent auction will go to support BISAC’s Po‘okela Vocational Program, which is in the process of creating a food truck business as part of its training program.

For more information about Summer Jam 2014 go to summerjamhawaii.com.

Health Department Issues Notice of Violation and Order Against Genesis Today and OfficeMax

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Genesis Today and OfficeMax, Inc. for late payments and reports required of beverage distributors by the state’s Deposit Beverage Container (DBC) Program law, also known as the HI-5 program. Both organizations were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013.

Department of Health
Hawaii Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit semi-annual distributor reports and payments to DOH no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the payment period for the previous month. Both organizations received multiple warning letters to remind them of the reporting requirements prior to being assessed a penalty.

DOH has assessed a $400 administrative penalty against Genesis Today and an $800 administrative penalty against OfficeMax for failing to comply with DBC requirements. Both organizations may request a hearing to contest the alleged facts and penalty.

Since its inception in January 2005, the HI-5 program has recycled more than five billion containers. Each year, more than 900 million beverage containers are sold in Hawaii. The program was designed to encourage Hawaii consumers to recycle their beverage containers to prevent these containers from ending up in the waste stream or as litter.

As an incentive, the Hawaii Deposit Beverage Container Program places a 5 cent redeemable deposit on each beverage container. Consumers receive their 5 cents back when they return their containers to a redemption center. The fees are assessed to distributors such as Genesis Today and OfficeMax based on the reported number of beverages sold to consumers.

For more information on the state’s Deposit Beverage Container Program, visit www.hi5deposit.com.

County of Hawai‘i Law Raising the Age of Sale to 21 Years for All Tobacco Products – Takes Effect July 1, 2014

Last year the Hawai’i County Council unanimously approved a bill to raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. That measure, Hawai‘i County Ordinance 13-124, takes effect on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

Signs Required at the Point of Sale:  The law requires that signs are to be posted at the point of sale. Signs where sent out to all registered tobacco retailers in May 2014. Signs are available at the Mayors Offices in East and West Hawaii or by contacting the East Hawaii Tobacco-Free Coalition Coordinator via email at

Signs Required at the Point of Sale: The law requires that signs are to be posted at the point of sale. Signs where sent out to all registered tobacco retailers in May 2014. Signs are available at the Mayors Offices in East and West Hawaii or by contacting the East Hawaii Tobacco-Free Coalition Coordinator via email at

The law prohibits the distribution of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, to underage customers born after June 30, 1996. Retailers need to be aware that anyone who is born after June 30, 1996 is prohibited from purchasing tobacco products or electronic smoking devices until they are 21 years of age.

There is an exemption in the new ordinance for people who reach the age of 18 before July 1, 2014. Those who reach the age of 18 before July 1, 2014 are allowed to continue to purchase tobacco. The purpose of the exemption is to ease the transition for people who already use tobacco, and for the retailers.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawai‘i Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill. Hawai‘i County Council unanimously passed Bill 135 on November 20, and Mayor Kenoi signed the legislation into law in December 2013.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawaii applauds Hawai‘i County for standing strong on tobacco control. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (www.tobaccofreekids.org), “National data show that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.” The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use. Increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 will help prevent young people from ever starting to smoke.

Hawai‘i County joins New York City and Needham and Canton, Massachusetts, in raising the age of sale on tobacco products to 21.  Four states—Utah, New Jersey, Alaska and Alabama—require tobacco buyers to be 19.  Several other counties and states, including Texas, are considering similar measures.

It is important for retailers and potential buyers to know these key points for the new law:

  • Any person who sells or distributes tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, to an underage customer will be subject to a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Persons, retailers, and employees that sell or distribute tobacco products must verify proof of age of the recipient/purchaser.
  • Sale is prohibited to persons born after June 30, 1996.
  • Valid identification includes: state driver’s license, state identification card, military ID, or passport.
  • Signs are required to be posted at every point of sale.
  • From July 1, 2014 – July 30, 2017, persons who sell or display tobacco products shall post signs clearly and keep them posted at the place of business at each point of sale.
  • Failure to post this sign shall be subject to a fine of up to $500.

Signs were sent to all registered tobacco retailers in May 2014. Additional signs are available at the Mayor’s Offices in East and West Hawai‘i or by contacting the East Hawai‘i Tobacco-Free Coalition Coordinator via email at sally@tobaccofreehawaii.org.

For more information please visit the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i website at: http://www.tobaccofreehawaii.org/community-coalitions/tobacco-free-big-island/hawaii-county-new-law-raising-the-age-of-purchase-for-tobacco-products-to-21/

Medical Marijuana Dispensary System Task Force Formed

The Public Policy Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa is convening the Medical Marijuana Dispensary System Task Force to develop recommendations for the establishment of a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana to provide safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualified patients.

Medical Marijuana

The first meeting was held today, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM in Conference Room 325 of the State Capitol Building.

The task force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2015.

For more information, please contact:

Susan M. Chandler, Public Policy Center · 956-4237

Representative Della Au Belatti, House Health Committee Chair · 586-9425

Peter Whiticar, Department of Health · 733-8443

Puna Couple Busted for Growing Large Quantities of Marijuana

A Puna man and woman are in police custody after police recovered large quantities of marijuana at their home in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.
SONY DSC
At 11:55 a.m. Friday (June 19) Vice Section officers served a search warrant at a home on the 15-1900 block of 31st Avenue. They recovered 674 marijuana plants ranging in height from 6 inches to 4 feet, 80 clones, and 6.94 pounds of dried marijuana.

Police arrested 62-year-old Cyra Kalama-Lopez at the scene. She was taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives continued the investigation. Several hours later, her husband, David Lopez, turned himself in at the Hilo police station. Both remain at the cellblock pending further investigation into possible charges of commercial promotion of marijuana.

EPA Settlement with Destination Maui Will Fund Blood Lead Testing for 350 Children

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement valued at $55,000 with Destination Maui, Inc. for failing to notify its tenants about the potential presence of lead-based paint at eight properties located on Maui.

EPA LOGO“More than half a million children in America have blood lead levels that can lead to learning disabilities and behavior problems,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Household paint is the main source of exposure, so it’s crucial for landlords to provide tenants the information they need to protect their families from lead poisoning.”

In addition to a fine of $5,500, Destination Maui will spend approximately $49,500 to fund the testing of 350 children for lead exposure and provide blood lead analysis equipment to three community health clinics operated by Malama I Ke Ola Health Center on Maui that serve low income and homeless residents. The blood testing program will take place over the next three years, and will target uninsured children under the age of 6 years old.

An EPA inspection found that the firm did not provide information about the potential presence of lead based paint before leasing eight properties in Kahului, Kihei, Wailuku, Lahaina, Makawao, Kula, and Haiku. These actions violated the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.

The inspection was one of several conducted at property management firms in May 2011 throughout Maui that rent older housing that may have a risk of lead hazards. EPA places a high priority on addressing environmental health risks like lead poisoning that disproportionately affect children and environmental justice communities. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, and other harmful health effects. Because such effects may not be immediately apparent in young children, testing is recommended to identify lead poisoning and take action to prevent further harm.

The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Federal law requires that persons and entities that sell or rent housing built before 1978, such as the units managed by Destination Maui involved in this case, provide lead hazard information to buyers or tenants. In addition, contractors who work on such housing or child-occupied facilities must be certified by EPA if they perform significant renovation, repair, or painting.

For additional information on lead in paint and the Toxic Substances Control Act requirements, please visit the EPA website at http://www2.epa.gov/lead

New Findings Show Hawaii High and Middle School Students Improve Health Behaviors

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DOE), and University of Hawaii (UH) have released new findings from the 2013 Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) for the state and all four counties.

Department of Health

Administered to public non-charter school students in grades 6-12 throughout the state every two years, the YRBS is the only survey that monitors youth health risk behaviors on a regular basis. The next administration of the Hawaii YRBS will be conducted in spring 2015.

“The YRBS is an important tool to identify focus areas for prevention and treatment efforts,” said Health Director Linda Rosen. “The longstanding collaboration between the DOH, DOE, and UH provides an excellent data tracking system to monitor student health risk behaviors and target interventions where they are most needed,”

“Not all student health risk behaviors are obvious,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This data provides information that our educators can use to reinforce and advise our students in making positive choices.”

Findings from the Hawaii YRBS indicate that since 2011, there have been positive changes in many student health behaviors; however, there is still room for improvement.

Physical fighting has declined, with 17 percent of high school and 22 percent of middle school students reporting that they were in a fight at least once during the past 12 months.
Marijuana use remains steady with 19 percent of high school and 8 percent of middle school students reporting use in the past 30 days.
Fewer students are binge drinking, but 25 percent of high school and 10 percent of middle school students report drinking some alcohol in the past 30 days.
The percentage of high school students who report attempting suicide in the past 12 months remains at 11 percent, while the percentage of middle school students who report attempting suicide increased to 12 percent.

For the first time, the Hawaii High School YRBS gathered information on texting and emailing by adolescents while driving. Findings indicate that the use of technology while driving continues to put youth at risk.

Among students who drove a car, 43 percent reported texting or emailing while driving during the past 30 days.

The Hawaii YRBS 2013 data also indicate varied trends in obesity-related behaviors, such as excessive screen time, physical activity, diet, and sleep.

The percentage of high school (42 percent) and middle school (41 percent) students who report using a computer for something that was not school work for three or more hours per day on an average school day has been increasing since 2007.
The percentage of high schools students who met the national recommendation for physical activity (at least 60 minutes per day on each of the past seven days) remains steady at 22 percent and the percentage of middle school students meeting this goal increased to 32 percent.
Only 27 percent of high school and 55 percent of middle school students indicate that they are getting eight or more hours of sleep on an average school night.
Soda consumption continues to decrease, with 30 percent of high school students reporting that they did not drink any sugar-sweetened soda in the past seven days.

Survey procedures were designed to protect students’ privacy by allowing for anonymous and voluntary participation. Before survey administration, active parental permission was obtained. Students completed the self-administered questionnaire during one class period and recorded their responses directly on a computer-scannable answer sheet.

The Hawaii YRBS is part of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For a comparison of Hawai‘i data to the nation, visit http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Default.aspx.

For more information on the Hawaii YRBS visit http://health.hawaii.gov/school-health/health-survey/ or http://apps.hidoe.k12.hi.us/research/Pages/YRBS.aspx.

The full survey report, more detailed data reports by county, gender, grade and race/ethnicity, and the survey questionnaires are available at the Hawaii Health Data Warehouse website at www.hhdw.org.

Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Names Spring 2014 Dean’s List

The following students from The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have been named to the Dean’s List for Spring semester 2014.

UH Hilo Moniker

The Class of 2014 was performing clinical rotations and therefore this designation does not apply.

Class of 2015
Brianne Blakesley*, Andrea Brauer*, Richard Cleave, Chao Cox*, Le Du, Jozelle Gabriel*, Davis Hanai*, Daniel Hasegawa*, Kelly Ishizuka*, Brian John, Tiffany Khan*, Traci Kusaka*, Daniel Leong*, Wei Lin*, Kristina Lo*, Chelsea Murobayashi, Tracy Ng*, Darian Oshiro, Alysia Osugi*, Jessica Parker, Jarred Prudencio*, Garrett Rhodes, Lindsey Takara*, Trina Tran*, Jill Anne Villarosa*, Nichole Wilson*, Akio Yanagisawa*
(* denotes achieving Dean’s List every semester since first year)

Class of 2016
Amy Anderson, Allen Bagalso, Lance Cabanting, David Choe, Chau Dang, Walter Domingo, Ornella Fassu, Bryce Fukunaga, Sisay Kenfe Girmay, Jerilyn Gudoy, Alexander Guimaraes, Samantha Hanabaga, John Hoang, Melissa Iida, Okezie Irondi, Leilani Isozaki, Blake Johnson, Micah KimHan, Thao Le, Quynh Le, Uoc Le, Nancy Le, Tina Liu, Melissa Monette, Raymond Okaniwa, Sarah Osellame, Joson Perreira, Kasia Quintal, Eric Sanders, Arnold Sano, Huong-Thy Ta, Andy Takahata, Mireya Talavera, Jynelle Tangonan, Christopher Thai, Carlo Tiano, Eric Tsuji, Brandon Tuzon, Kimberly Victorine, Kevin Wang, Andy Wong

Class of 2017
Sean Abreu, Trenton Aoki, Lena Asano, Robert Bautista, Megan Calderwood, Christopher Cao, Rhea Castro, Nicole Chin, Ronnijean Delenia, Christopher Diaz, Andy Diep, Nicholas Ferreira, Audrey Fung, Dann Hirayasu, David Khan, Shaun Lasky, Lauren Levine, Caleb Malinski, Sean Menda, Kevin Meno, Kelsea Mizusawa, Lauryn Mow, Loc Ngo, Phuc Nguyen, Kimberlee Roseman, Nadine So, Lillian Tran, Deandra Viluan, Hoa Vo, Brenda Yuen, Zi Zhang

Video Proof of Compliance Checks Happening in Puna – Officer Lied in Today’s Paper

In today’s Hawaii Tribune article entitled “Puna Residents Sue to Get Pot Back” Police Capt. Robert Wagner is quoted as saying that the police here on the Big Island don’t do compliance checks.

Compliance Check

The bold statement is a lie!

…Both Snow and Ruggles said no arrests or police reports were made and no receipts were given for the plants. A check by the Tribune-Herald of the police’s June 14, 2012 incident bulletin contained no mention of either alleged incident.

Ruggles’ suit also asks for a court order “directing the Hawaii County Police Department to cease the activity known as ‘compliance checks.’”

“We don’t do compliance checks; I’ve never heard of a compliance check,” said Capt. Robert Wagner, commander of Hilo Criminal Investigation Division, which includes the vice section. He said the state Narcotics Enforcement Division is in charge of medical marijuana compliance and enforcement.

“We don’t even have a record of who has medical marijuana cards and who does not,” he said. He said if police serve warrants on suspected marijuana growers or dealers, they check first with NED to see if any medical marijuana licenses are assigned to the property.

Wagner confirmed there were marijuana eradication sweeps conducted by NED in Puna on June 14, 2012, and plants were confiscated in Fern Acres…

Here is a video of an August 14, 2013 raid on Mr. Ruggles Fern Acres Property doing a compliance check:

As you can see in the video… it appears that in the back of the truck they have a few plants of their own from another raid that happened (2:08 mark in the video above)

Big Island Farmers File Federal Complaint About GMO Bill

We’re Standing United with Agriculture to Protect the Future of Farming in Hawaii

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

Papaya Trees Destroyed by Machete in Puna

“Our organization is participating in this lawsuit because we have cause and want to stand with farmers, ranchers and growers when unfair and unnecessary laws and regulations threaten our livelihood.

“Bill 113 will make it illegal to grow some genetically modified (GM) plants, including valuable food and feed crops and flowers. By prohibiting the use of these crops that have been deemed by the government and scientific experts to be perfectly safe, Bill 113 is a direct assault on our ‘right to farm’ and essentially criminalizes those who rely on the tools of modern biotechnology to foster productivity.”

“United we stand, divided we fall”

Background:

Signed into law on December 5, 2013, Hawaii County enacted Bill 113, which imposes a county-wide ban on the development, propagation, cultivation, and open-air testing of most genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Plaintiffs represent a broad cross-section of Hawaii Island farmers and related businesses that rely on GE crops, including disease-resistant papaya, as well as technology companies that develop, test, and commercialize valuable, new GE agricultural products.

Farmers and Agriculture Associations are standing United; participating in this suit, which seeks to invalidate and enjoin the County of Hawaii from enforcing County Ordinance 13-121 (“Bill 113”).  The suit alleges that the bill:

  • is preempted under federal law
  • is preempted under state law
  • violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution
  • presents a regulatory taking in violation of the HI Constitution

Plaintiffs include:

  • Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association
  • Hawaii Papaya Industry Association
  • Big Island Banana Growers Association
  • Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization
  • Pacific Floral Exchange
  • Richard Ha
  • Jason Moniz
  • Gordon Inouye
  • Eric Tanouye

Key Points:

  • Bill 113 cripples farmers’ current and future ability to farm GE crops, imposes extreme burdens on local agriculture and violates Federal and Hawaii law.
  • Despite the central role of GE crops in modern commercial agriculture and their long history of safe use in Hawaii and around the world, Bill 113 imposes a near-blanket ban on new cultivation, propagation, development, and open-air testing of such crops in the County.

Bill 113 is backed by no findings or evidence that GE crops are in any way harmful, or in any way endanger the local environment.

Using the “precautionary principle,” Bill 113 is in direct conflict with determinations made by expert federal agencies, and seeks to outlaw agricultural activities that the federal government has specifically authorized following thorough scientific reviews.

  • Farming GE crops has also long been a generally accepted agricultural practice locally and GE crops have been vitally important to the County of Hawaii.

In the 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was devastated by the ringspot virus. The development of a GE variety of papaya that is resistant to the virus is widely credited with saving the industry.

The resulting Rainbow GE variety of papaya now accounts for approximately 85 percent of papaya grown in the County and is widely sold throughout the United States and in other nations.

County farmers support federally-approved testing to develop new disease-resistant papaya and banana plants and floral varieties that resist harmful insect pests and bacteria.

  • GE crops not only help farmers, but contribute to food security for the island. By banning any use of new GE crops, Hawaii consumers can expect increases in food costs, business costs, and pesticide use.
  • If farmers in Hawaii are unable to farm efficiently and productively, more costly foods will need to be imported.
  • The State of Hawaii has deemed the promotion of “diversified agriculture” a vital public interest. This principle is enshrined in the Constitution of Hawaii, which expressly directs the State – not the counties – to conserve and protect agricultural and farming resources.

COEXISTENCE:

Individual farmers routinely incorporate multiple production practices within a single operation.  Coexistence is not about health or safety; it is about finding ways to improve working relationships when different production systems are used in close proximity.

SAFETY:

Every GE crop on the market today was thoroughly evaluated by government scientific experts, often at as many as three different federal regulatory agencies, through a complex multiyear scientific review process.

Not only have GE crops been deemed safe by expert federal agencies, but multiple other governmental and non-governmental agencies have reached the same conclusions, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the European Commission, and the British Medical Association.

More than 600 peer-reviewed scientific reports document the safety of GE foods.

GENERA a project by BIOFORTIFIDE to create a searchable database to more than 2000 studies on biotechnology in Food and agriculture.

TRANSPARENCY:

We understand people have questions about how their food is grown. We need to have the discussion before we prematurely make laws that cripple the Future of Farmers and unfairly target growers using technology. While industry will stand with growers and challenge unfair and unlawful ordinances like Bill 113, we urge people to visit the GMO Answers website (http://gmoanswers.com) to get more information about the products of biotechnology.

The Rainbow Papaya that saved Hawaii’s papaya industry was genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus. See how it was done by viewing this video on gmoanswers.com.

Infectious Diseases Among Top Conditions for Hawaii’s Waitlist

Nearly one in five of Hawaii’s waitlisted patients—that is, those remaining in a hospital after the need for acute care ceases—have an infectious disease, according to discharge data analyzed by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC), the state’s premier healthcare data collector and analyzer.

Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC)Waitlist patients are those needing treatment, but not at the severity level that requires inpatient care.  These patients often continue to stay in a hospital because there are limited available community placement options that meet the patient’s needs.

According to 2011 data, infectious diseases, including septicemia, parasitic diseases and cellulitis, are the most costly conditions among waitlist patients in our state.  Septicemia (a severe blood infection that can lead to organ failure or death) is the most common and most expensive of these conditions, costing hospitals $4.7 million annually.  The number of waitlist patients with this life-threatening disease increased 163 percent between 2006 and 2011.    Waitlist patients with infectious diseases are the most difficult to place and result in a patient being waitlisted for an extended period.

The second most expensive waitlist patients are those with a tracheostomy, a surgically created opening in the neck leading directly to the trachea (windpipe), which allows a person to breathe without the use of his or her nose or mouth.  In Hawaii, this group costs hospitals $3.5 million annually.  Tracheostomy is also among the longest-stay conditions for waitlisted patients.

Also among the top 12 most costly conditions are: cerebrovascular atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries and the leading cause of heart attacks), amputation of lower limbs, hip and femur procedures for trauma, major respiratory infections, renal failure, head trauma with coma for less than an hour, and back and neck disorders.  Combined, the top 12 waitlisted conditions cost $25.6 million, representing 37 percent of the $62.7 million annual waitlist cost to hospitals in 2011.

HHIC also found that mental illness is a common underlying and complicating condition, affecting 49 percent of waitlisted patients.  Four of the top 12 longest-stay waitlisted conditions—drug and alcohol abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and depression—are mental health-related.

Between 2006 and 2011, heart failure, kidney and urinary tract infections and pneumonia received much focus in quality assurance programs and have fallen off the list of the top 12 most costly waitlist conditions.

The key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient staff with higher skill-mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the needs of those with complex conditions, a lack of specialty equipment to provide appropriate care, the cost of multiple or high-cost antibiotics, and lack of community-based resources to support patients with underlying mentally illness in managing their other medical conditions.

“Meeting the complex medical and behavioral needs of waitlisted patients is a key challenge in reducing the hospital waitlist,” said Peter Sybinsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of HHIC.  “Solutions will require development of appropriate community and institutional resources and the funding sources to maintain them.  As a community, we need to take aggressive efforts to address both.”

About the Data
Findings are based on data collected from all hospitals across the state, except Tripler Army Medical Center.  The report was prepared based on funding provided by Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kaiser-Permanente, AlohaCare, Ohana Healthcare and United Healthcare, in an attempt to provide a clear description of Hawaii’s waitlist population and estimate the financial impact on Hawaii’s hospitals.

Yes… That Was Me in Today’s Wreck at Malama Market Intersection

Today at about 10:30 my cousin and I were driving back home after dropping my wife’s car off at Kolohe Auto Repair when we got in an accident at the Malama Market intersection on Highway 130 here in Pahoa.

View from inside the car right after the wreck.

View from inside the car right after the wreck.  I tried to get out of the car but was too stunned to even move and my neck and back hurt so felt it was best to just stay put.

I was the passenger in a 2009 Scion that took the brunt of the impact.  Simply put… what happened shouldn’t have happened had the driver we hit was paying attention.

We were driving towards Kalapana on Highway 130 and the driver of a Jeep Wrangler was driving towards town direction.  He moved into the left turn lane at the Malama Market intersection and came to a stop.

As we were going at the speed limit recommended for the area of 45 MPH… right as we got to the intersection… the Jeep Wrangler decided that he was going to take a left turn in to the Malama Market area.

The driver of the car I was in… slammed on her brakes but it was too late and we slammed into the car.

I spent all day in the hospital getting everything from Cat Scans to X-Rays while the whole day my neck was in some sort of collar to keep me from moving it.

I’m now happy to report that I’m back home with the diagnosis of serious whiplash and I have a nice gash down the shin of my left leg.

Highway 130 and this Malama Market intersection have been one of the most dangerous ones in the State and today it proved itself to me personally.

The State KNOWS there is a problem with this intersection yet accidents continue to happen there almost daily.  People have lost limbs, lost cars, broken bones and still yet nothing has been done.

There is plans to install a round-a-bout at this intersection in the next few months… I’m not sure how that will work in the long run.
pahoa roundMore posts related to accidents on Highway 130 can be found here:  Highway 130

Death, Injury Persist in Hawaii Boating Accidents

In 2013, boating accidents in Hawaii claimed the lives of four people and injured seven during 19 separate accidents. Hawaii had five deaths, six injuries and 28 accidents in 2012.

Click to view statistics

Click to view statistics

These numbers highlight the need for continued awareness of safety while on the water. The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and the National Safe Boating Council are highlighting safe boating practices during National Safe Boating Week May 17 through May 23.

The boating public is strongly advised to take appropriate steps to ensure their vessels are safe and that they are prepared to operate those vessels. Mariners should:

  • Wear a life jacket. In 2013, 328 drownings occurred where individuals were not wearing life jackets.
  • Have and know how to use a VHF-FM radio. VHF radios are much more reliable than cellphones. Make sure you have a reliable means for contacting help in an emergency situation.
  • Carry signaling devices such as flares.
  • File a float plan so someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return. Information on a “float plan,” including templates, can be found on the Coast Guard’s boating safety website http://www.uscgboating.org/.

Throughout NSBW federal, state and volunteer agencies will offer safe boating classes, free vessel safety checks at local marinas and increased patrols throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

To find the location of the nearest Auxiliary flotilla and a schedule of safe boating classes, visit http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=140.

National Safe Boating Week is an annual observance sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council, and endorsed and promoted by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Information on the NSBC can be found at http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/.

A PDF of the most recent Recreational Boating Statistics can be found at http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/AssetManager/2013RecBoatingStats.pdf.