Senators Call on Senate Appropriators to Respect State Marijuana Laws

Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) urged Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to include provisions that require the federal government respect states’ laws regarding the regulation of marijuana when finalizing fiscal year 2018 appropriations. Congress has until Friday, March 23, 2018, to craft final fiscal year 2018 appropriations bills.

The majority of states, including Hawai‘i, have some form of reduced restrictions on marijuana. Recognizing this, under President Obama the Department of Justice has issued a series of guidance memoranda over the last several years outlining a federal law enforcement priorities that provided state and local governments and citizens a framework upon which citizens rely to establish legitimate businesses. However, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, the Attorney General rescinded this guidance.

The Senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the Senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).

Plea Deal Offered to Man Facing 77 Years for Medical Marijuana Collective

A hearing held was held for Mike Ruggles, the man facing 77 years for attempting to start up a medical marijuana collective, this morning, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, at the courthouse in Hilo on Hawai‘i Island.

The hearing consisted of a Motions to Compel, a Motion to Dismiss Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct as well as a Frye Hearing, in which the state offered Ruggles a plea agreement.

The state of Missouri prosecutors offered Galin Edward Frye two deals while seeking his conviction for driving while his license was revoked, but his lawyer never told Frye about the offers. Frye pleaded guilty to a felony charge and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Frye appealed, saying his lawyer should have told him about the previous deals. A Missouri appeals court agreed. Prosecutors contend that not knowing about the deals they offered doesn’t mean that Frye didn’t know what he was doing when he decided to plead guilty.

Prosecutor Rick Damerville spoke to Big Island Now after the hearing and explained the process of the Frye Hearing and how it is pertinent to this case.

In a written letter from the prosecutors office, Deputy Prosecuting Damerville offered the following plea:

Dear Mr. Ruggles:
Re: State of Hawai‘i v. Michael Doyle Ruggles, CR. No 15-1-0391

Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Hawai‘i Rules of Criminal Procedure, and a recent suggestion by the Court, the State of Hawai‘ij makes the following plea offer in the above styled case:

  1. Mr. Ruggles may conditionally plead guilty of no contest (for civil liability reason only) to:
  2. Count 3, the lesser included offense of Commercial Promotion of Marijuana in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing marijuana (cannabis) having an aggregate weight of two pounds or more, in violation of Section 712-1249.5(1)(a), HRS; or
  3. Count 5, the lesser included offense of Promoting a Harmful Drug in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing 50 or more capsule, and/or tablets and/or dosage units containing one and/or more of the marijuana (cannabis) concentrates, in violation of Section 712-1245(1)(a), HRS; or
  4. Count 6, the lesser included offense of Commercial Promotion of Marijuana in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing, cultivating, and/or has under his control fifty or more marijuana plants in violation of Section 712-1249.5(1)(c), HRS);
  5. and stipulate the forfeiture of the evidence recovered in this case, unless the State agrees to the return of specified items of evidence; In return, the State will agree to recommend 30 months of probation pursuant to Section 706-622.5, HRS and expungement provided Mr. Ruggles complies with the terms and conditions of his probation.  The State reserves the right to ask for up to one year in jail as a condition of probation; further the parties agree that a PSI will be conducted in this case.  If the PSI writer recommends a lesser amount of jail, the State will concur with that recommendation.  The State Reserves the right for other reasonable terms and conditions of probation including drug testing.
  6. Further, Mr. Ruggles may condition his plea of guilty or no contest reserving in writing the right on appeal from the judgement, to seek review of the adverse determination of the specific pretrial motions listed below, and if Mr. Ruggles prevails on appeal he shall be allowed to withdraw the pleas: (1) An adverse ruling on Ruggles’ motion to quash the warrant filed on February 2, 2016; (2) An adverse ruling on Ruggles motion to dismiss for vagueness and/or on the grounds of entrapment and/or for constitutional violations filed on February 2, 2016; (3) An adverse ruling on Ruggles motion in limine no. 1 to assert the affirmative defense of medical cannabis at trial.
  7. Should Mr. Ruggles enter a conditional plea guilty or no contest as described above, the State will agree to stay any sentence imposed pending appeal should Mr. Ruggles elect to ask for a stay.
  8. If Mr. Ruggles accepts this offer by pleading guilty or no contest as described above and then pending sentencing, inexcusably fails to cooperate in the preparation of the PSI report, or commits a new crime pending sentencing, then the State will not be bound to recommend the sentence described above and can ask the court to impose any legal sentence including up to ten years in prision.
  9. As part of this plea agreement, the State will dismiss the remaining counts of the complaint.
    This offer will remain open unless withdrawn in writing before acceptance.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Very truly yours,
Ricky R. Damerville
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Interview with Man Who Faces 77 Years in Prison for Medical Marijuana Collective

Mike Ruggles is shown outside Hilo’s courthouse. Courtesy photo.

Fern Acres resident and medical marijuana activist Mike Ruggles will have a court hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in the Hilo Third Circuit Court in front of Judge Nakamura. Ruggles is charged with running an “un-permitted medical marijuana dispensary” and is facing 77 years in prison.

After the police arrested Ruggles on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, the collective has since closed.

Ruggles daughter, Councilmember Jennifer Ruggles, posted the following to her Facebook account:

“Collectives are like farmers markets while dispensaries are like Walmarts for medical cannabis. I believe patients should options,” said Councilwoman Ruggles. “Come help support the man fighting so our island can have Collectives in addition to Dispensaries. Collectives are patient owned and supported, and support local patients and caregivers by allowing patients to transfer among themselves while Dispensaries are run by the rich for the rich,” she added. 

Supporters of Ruggles set up a crowd funding page where 70 people so far have contributed over $3,500.

Ruggles stated on Facebook, “I opened Hawai‘i’s first medical marijuana collective modeled after successful collectives in California, and we were raided a few months ago. While I’m facing 77 years in prison, this is an opportunity to set precedence for medical marijuana collectives in Hawai‘i.”

Big Island Now spoke to Ruggles at his house today in Fern Acres:

The following is a release that was sent to media following his arrest while he was still in jail:

Michael Ruggles, 58, a medical cannabis patient and activist who operates the Alternative Pain Management Pu`uhonua’s Collective out of his home in Fern Acres, was raided and arrested on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015.

Ruggles’ private medical cannabis collective provides a means for members to dispose of excess medical cannabis via transfer to other members who have also been authorized to use medical cannabis. Ruggles’ collective allows members to comply with the quantity restrictions set forth in Hawai`i’s medical marijuana laws and maintain an uninterrupted supply of safe medical cannabis.
The police served a search warrant and seized all the medical cannabis being cultivated on the property registered to multiple patients and caregivers, in addition to several Collective member’s excess medical cannabis in its various forms.

All business and tax records, members’ files containing protected health information, electronic devices, fine jewelry, professional music recording gear, other property resident firearms, his daughter’s college text book, a greeting card containing a personal message and some food were also confiscated from the collective. No property receipt was left by the police for the seized items.
Ruggles is being charged with 30 violations for allegedly operating an unauthorized dispensary even though the Pu’uhonua is operated as a collective. Bail has been set at $84,500.

The numerous collective medical cannabis patients who relied on the collective as a safe means to obtain their doctor approved medicine are now being forced to turn to the black market or go without.

The raid was based upon an undercover officer who presented a false doctor’s written certification that stated he was in the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card under an alias and was allowed to be processed as a member.

Under HRS 329 Medical Use of Marijuana Laws, conditions of use are defined and specify that patients must have a written certification under a physician to use medical cannibis and does not require the patient to register with the Department of Health and Department of Safety as a condition of use. It was under this premise, that the undercover officer was allowed to acquire medical cannabis according to a collective volunteer and member.

Ruggles’ is currently being held at a Hilo police cell block and his first court appearance is on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 at 1 p.m. Friends who recently visited Ruggles say that he is in high spirits and prepared to defend the rights of medical cannabis patients to safely dispose and acquire medicine within the confines of the law.

Waimea Town Meeting to Focus on Medical Cannabis

California State University file image.

Representatives of Hawaiian Ethos have been invited to a Waimea Community Association (WCA) Town Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, at 5:15 p.m. to provide an overview of their plans to cultivate and dispense medical cannabis to Hawai‘i Island patients.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Hawai‘i since 2000, but access to medical cannabis was challenging. Initially the Hawai‘i law enabled patients and caregivers to legally grow their own plants within certain parameters. Then in 2015, the State Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Act 241, which became codified as Chapter 329D of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, to establish a dispensary licensure program to make medicinal marijuana products readily available for registered patients while balancing the health and safety of patients and the public.

Today in Hawai‘i, eight licensees have received permission to operate dispensaries for licensed medical cannabis patients. Two such licensees have been authorized for Hawai‘i Island – including one group that will source its flower from Waimea. One of the companies, known as Hawaiian Ethos, has plans to open their first dispensary in Kona in the Spring and a second dispensary in Hilo later this year. Both dispensary locations will offer the full range of products that are allowed by Hawai‘i State regulations including flower, tinctures, tablets and capsules in a variety of dosages.

The Hawaiian Ethos team is led by Interim CEO Luis Mejia and COO Zachary Taffany.

Representatives of Hawaiian Ethos have been invited to a Waimea Community Association (WCA) Town Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, at 5:15 p.m. to provide an overview of their plans to cultivate and dispense medical cannabis to Hawaii Island patients.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance has regulatory responsibility for Hawai‘i’s dispensary licensure program to ensure patient safety, public safety, and product safety and to ensure licensee comply with state law. This includes statewide oversight of the laboratories that test the safety and quality of the cannabis and manufactured cannabis products, and onsite inspections and monitoring of licensed dispensaries that grow, manufacture and sell medical cannabis products to qualifying patients.

There is no charge to attend the meeting although membership in the association is urged and dues for 2018 are due. Annual WCA membership is $15 for individuals and $25 for families, and because the organization is a not-for-profit, dues are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The program will begin with Hawai‘i County council members providing an update on council business and Community Policing Officer Kelena Ho‘okano reporting on recent incidents and community safety concerns.

The spotlighted community non-profit for the evening will be North Hawai‘i Community Hospital’s much needed emergency room expansion project which seeks to raise about $1 million from the local community to be matched with $24 million from other public and private sources, including $1.5 million from the 2018 State Legislature. As has become a monthly custom at town meetings, attendees will be encouraged to make a tax deductible donation to this not-for-profit organization.

Starbucks will provide steaming hot coffee and the association board will provide cookies.

The meeting will be located at the Waimea School cafeteria, 67-1225 Mamalahoa Highway in Kamuela.

For more info see the website, Facebook, or call Patti Cook at (808) 937-2833 or email cookshi@aol.com.

Legal Cannabis Businesses Must Be Allowed Access to Banks, Hawai‘i Urges

Hawai‘i Attorney General Doug Chin and Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, joined by 17 other attorneys general, urged Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, to advance legislation allowing states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.

AG Chin and AG Lindemuth co-chair the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General Marijuana Working Group, comprised of states that have legalized either medical cannabis dispensaries, like Hawai‘i, or recreational cannabis.

“Banks and other depository institutions are currently hindered by federal law from providing financial services to cannabis businesses,” said Attorney General Chin, “This encourages a cash-only, grey market that hurts law enforcement and tax collections.”

The multi-state letter requests legislation that would provide a legal “safe harbor” for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that regulates its marijuana industry. Attorney General Chin and the 18 attorneys general emphasized that the requested legislation would not only protect public safety by bringing grey-market financial activities into the banking sector and thus subject to law enforcement monitoring, but would also result in billions of dollars infused into the banking industry.

“Twenty-nine states [including Hawai‘i] and several US territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes,” the letter states.

The attorneys general also note a recent decision by the United States Department of Justice to rescind guidance on how financial institutions could provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses consistent with federal law. That rescission, the attorneys general argue, has made even more urgent the need for congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector.

The multi-state letter was sponsored by Hawai‘i, Alaska, District of Columbia and North Dakota. It was also signed by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

Today in Hawai‘i, eight licensees have received permission to operate dispensaries for licensed medical cannabis patients.

Dear Congressional Leaders:

We are a bipartisan group of state attorneys general who recognize that the states and federal government share a strong interest in protecting public safety and bringing grey market activities into the regulated banking sector. To address these goals, we urge Congress to advance legislation that would allow states that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.

Twenty-nine states and several US territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia, also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes. This risk has significantly inhibited the willingness of financial institutions to provide services to these businesses.

Despite the contradictions between federal and state law, the marijuana industry continues to grow rapidly. Industry analysts report that sales grew by 30% to $6.7 billion in 2016 and expect those totals to exceed $20 billion by 2021. Yet those revenues often exist outside of the regulated banking space. Businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis. The grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of large swaths of finances across the nation.

To address these challenges, we are requesting legislation that would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that has implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability in the marijuana industry such as the SAFE Banking Act (S. 1152 and H.R. 2215) or similar legislation. This would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and give law enforcement the ability to monitor these transactions. Moreover, compliance with tax requirements would be simpler and easier to enforce with a better-defined tracking of funds. This would, in turn, result in higher tax revenue.

Prior Department of Justice guidance outlined how financial institutions could provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses consistent with their obligations under federal law and created some space for the banking industry to work with those businesses, though challenges remained in many areas. The recent rescission of that guidance has made the need for Congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector even more urgent.

Our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states, with state input, while protecting the interests of the federal government. This includes a banking system for marijuana-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy. We look forward to working with you as you move forward in this process and lending our voice and expertise as you develop legislation.

Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions Offers Guidance on Banking and Marijuana

The Commissioner of Financial Institutions, Iris Ikeda, presented considerations for banks and other financial institutions when dealing with marijuana related businesses at the Hawaii State Bar Association Convention on Oct. 23, 2015.

Click to view files

Click to view files

“The approval for licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries presents an upcoming challenge for banks,” said Commissioner Ikeda. “Before authorized dispensaries begin doing business, which could be as early as July 2016, banks and other financial institutions dealing with these businesses should take into account regulatory risks posed by the Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act.”

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions (DFI), which regulates state-chartered and state-licensed financial institutions, is in communication with Federal Reserve Bank and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) regulators on the implementation of Hawaii’s law for medical marijuana.

Outreach to financial institutions with guidance on opening accounts for marijuana related businesses has been conducted by DFI. DFI also hosts a collection of guidance from various federal agencies called “Banking and Marijuana” on its website http://cca.hawaii.gov/dfi/.

Medical Marijuana Policy Advocates Announce Series of August Events on Oahu, Hawai‘i Island

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (co-founders of the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii) have announced three free, public events on medical marijuana policy in August.

Medical Marijuana Meetings

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested by 8/20, walk ins welcome, space permitting. RSVP for any event to: office@acluhawaii.org or call (808) 522-5906. Neighbor Islands call toll free, 1-877-544-5906. All venues ADA-accessible, request special accommodation by 8/18.

  • Oahu, Saturday, 8/23/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” featuring Robert Jacob, Mayor of Sebastopol, CA and Executive Director of Peace in Medicine, a non-profit healing center and cannabis dispensary, and James Anthony, a former Oakland City prosecutor, now a full time attorney specialized in medical cannabis dispensary land use law. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Blaisdell Center Maui Room (second floor), 777 Ward Avenue.
  • Hilo, Sunday, 8/24/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” repeats. 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Hilo YWCA, 145 Ululani Street.
  • Kona, Friday, 8/29/14: “Medical Marijuana TalkStory”. A free form conversation among patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates conducted by staff of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. 2pm to 4pm at the Royal Kona Resort, in the Resolution Room. 75-5852 Ali‘i Drive.

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

A Message to Prosecuting Attorney Jay Kimura

Mr. Jay Kimura, Prosecuting Attorney for Hawaii County has a budget of 9 million dollars to prosecute and convict Hawaii residents. He’s continuing to use public funds to prosecute cases which are defined as ‘adult personal use’, involving 24 or fewer plants and 24 or fewer ounces on private property.

It’s a shame. Not only that, it’s against the law. Mr. Kimura is saying he doesn’t have to obey The Lowest Law Enforcement Priority of Cannabis Ordinance.

What about the 35,000 voters who made sure it passed into law Mr. Kimura? They are the ones who pay your salary. We think you should show a little more respect.

Stop prosecuting ‘adult personal use’. Start obeying the law. Make Cannabis offenses your lowest priority.

From The Peaceful Sky Alliance

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xLEBuBqBuQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&hd=1]

Institutions Serving Native Hawaiians Eligible for Medical Marijuana Research Grants

medmarijuana

Media Release:

The U.S. Health & Human Services Department’s National Institutes of Health has six discretionary grant opportunities to support research that focuses on the development of a medication to treat disorders related to the use of cannabis. This funding opportunity uses the R01 award mechanism.

The award ceiling for this funding opportunity is $500,000.

This funding opportunity is open to state, county, city, township or special district governments; Native American tribal governments and organizations; independent school districts; public, state and private institutions of higher education; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities; public/Indian housing authorities; nonprofits; for-profits; small businesses; Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions; eligible agencies of the federal government; faith-based or community-based organizations; Hispanic-serving institutions; non-domestic entities; regional organizations; U.S. territories or possessions; and individuals.

A funding opportunity notice from the U.S. Health & Human Services Department’s National Institutes of Health states: “Applications may focus on the pharmacotherapy of one or various CRDs or clinical manifestations of the disorders. For example, research may focus on marijuana dependence or specifically on marijuana withdrawal. Clinical applications may include human laboratory studies to develop models for testing medications targeting single or multiple manifestations of the CRDs, and the interaction of cannabinoids with other medications, pharmacokinetic and/or pharmacodynamic studies of potentially therapeutic compounds.

Applications may also focus on the specific symptoms of the disorder such as withdrawal, craving or relapse, complications such as cognitive impairment, sleep disorders/disruption of normal rhythms or the clinical surrogates of their use such as depression and other mood disorders. Preclinical applications may include pharmacological studies on new chemical entities (NCEs) leading to the identification of candidates for advanced preclinical or phase I/II IND covered clinical evaluation as potential pharmacotherapies for CRDs.”

The funding opportunity number is RFA-DA-10-016 (CFDA 93.279). It was posted Sept. 24 with an application closing date of April 30, 2010.

  • Purpose. The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to issue a Request for Applications (RFA) to support research studies that focus on the identification, and preclinical and clinical evaluation, of medications that can be safe and effective for the treatment of cannabis-use and -induced disorders, as well as their medical and psychiatric consequences. The studies can be preclinical or FDA-defined Phase I, Phase II or Phase III clinical trials.
  • Mechanism of Support. This FOA will utilize the R01 grant mechanism and runs in parallel with two FOAs of identical scientific scope, PA-07-365 and PA-07-366, that solicit applications under the R01 and R21 mechanisms, respectively.
  • Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards. It is anticipated that a total of 6 awards will be funded for a total of $3,000,000.
  • Budget and Project Period. The requested direct cost amount for individual awards must be less than $500,000 per year, with project periods for up to five years.

More Here: RFA-DA-09-001

Discrimination Against Pakalolo Patient Claimed on Celebrity Cruise Line During Big Island Visit

Here is my story

My name is Neal Plastik.

On Feb 28 2009 I left San Diego aboard the MV Mercury, a ship of the Celebrity Cruise Line, to go to Hawaii.

I went to the ship’s doctor and presented all of my proper paperwork showing that I use and posses medicinal Cannabis.

The doctor stated that I was the first person that had presented this paperwork in this manner to him. I also let the ship security know.

We sailed at sea for 5 days without any incident. I was able to medicate in a normal, albeit very discreet manner.

The first port we hit was Hilo.

I went off of the ship with my medicine in my bag and returned to security with my medicine. When the security guard opened my bag and saw my medical cannabis, he turned it over to his supervisor, and the supervisor  gave it back to me and said,” have a nice day”.

I went back onboard with no problem and we sailed over to the other end of Hilo.

I was then informed by the ship’s security officer  that I shouldn’t take my medical cannabis off the ship. I found this to be quite ludicrous. They informed me that I could not be taking my medical cannabis to shore.

I went to shore without my medicine and then talked to the Harbor Master.  I asked him what his policy was on medicinal cannabis. The Harbor Master informed me that as long as I was not taking duffelbags back onboard, and it was for my own personaluse, he had no problem with it.

We sailed to Maui and anchored in the port of La Hinna. I went to shore and rented a car, saw some sights in Maui, and then came back for dinner at 5:45PM.

As I was going through security, they asked that I remove all items from my pockets and I removed all metal items from my pockets.  He wanted me to remove all items from my pockets.

I did not remove my medicine, hoping not to cause more scandal. Security asked me what I had in my pocket. I told security that it was just my medicine and reluctantly removed it from my pocket and showed it to them.

Then the ship security called the head security officer to come down to the pier. The head ship security officer that arrived from the ship wanted me to surrender my medication to him.

I refused and was asked to talk to the port Harbor Master about this incident.  I told the head ship security officer that I had my medication and that I was a medical cannabis patient and he basically had no problem with this.

I went back aboard the ship with my medicine to have dinner. During dinner I was told  to meet with the staff.

My parents, my brother, and I all had a meeting with staff. Guest relations, the Head of Hotel, the First Officer and Security Officer were there.

They were telling me that I violated rules of the ship by transporting my medicine on and off of the ship. They also claimed that I was smoking pot on the pier, which was a total lie.

During the meeting I  looked at my watch because I needed to get my rental car returned and get back to the ship before they set sail.

So I decided to leave  and take care of the rental car return.

I went down the gang plank and when I stepped onto shore I was told by the staff that I will not be allowed to return back onboard and I am met by 6 police officers at the ship’s pier.

The First Captain says that I am not welcome aboard the ship. I argued with the police that I have medicine, that it is not contraband, that I am a patient and that thisis legal.

Maui then claims they do not want to recognize California’s medical marijuana card even though Maui does have a medical marijuana card for Hawaii.

I then thought I would take my belongings in the rental car.

Ten minutes later I get a phone call from my brother, telling me the ship’s staff has  extracted everything from my room and the safe, $2000 dollars in cash and medicine and even my brother’s belongings (even though he wasn’t been removed from the ship), were seized by the cruise ship staff and turned over to the Maui police.

I needed to go back to the pier to identify my property.

I went back willing to claim responsibility for my medicinal cannabis but they refused to let my brother take his money back.

I returned to the pier, walked up to the officers. And was told “You should have never come back. You are under arrest.”

I asked “What am I being arrested for?”

And he said “Dope.”

I was arrested and placed in the car on the hard plastic seat with handcuffs that got real tight on my wrists.

I asked them why I was being treated like a criminal and told them that I was only a patient.

I asked them what my bail would be and he said probably 100 dollars.

I was placed in a holding cell and after a couple of hours I was brought out to sign the bail paperwork and was told that bail was 10,400 dollars because I was being charged with 2 feloniesand a misdemeanor.

I passed out. I went unconscious. paramedics were summoned.

I did not have the bail money. I complained of pain to the paramedics, I requested my PRN Vicodin of 2 tablets and was only given one by the patrol officers who did not have a nursing license or MD license.

I woke up 2PM the next day when my parents posted bail. I had   a 3:15 PM  flight out of Maui.

I was not in possession of anything at the time of my arrest and I was charged for my medical cannabis.

Hawaii does acknowledge Hawaiian cannabis but they do not acknowledge the California paperwork.

Maybe one day we will be able to take a cruise and medicate like anyone else.

Neal Plastik

858-568-3400