Hawaii Attorney General Joins Coalition Urging FDA to Ease Restrictions on Blood Donations by Gay & Bisexual Men

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors joined a multistate coalition led by California in submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supporting efforts to maintain an adequate national blood supply to aid the nation’s medical response during the COVID- 19 pandemic. In the letter, the attorneys general argue that while the FDA’s guidance easing restrictions on blood donations from the LGBTQ population, specifically gay and bisexual men, is a step in the right direction, the guidance does not go far enough to meet the nation’s needs. The letter advocates moving toward a risk-based, gender neutral screening model and further revising guidance to make it easier for the LGBTQ population to donate blood and plasma in response to the nation’s needs during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Attorney General Clare E. Connors

“A risk-based screening model is legally and scientifically sound, and allows for a potentially significant increase in donated blood,” said Attorney General Connors. “Our country’s healthcare system depends on a steady supply of blood cells, platelets and plasma, and any remaining discriminatory restrictions on donations should be removed.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, blood drives and donations have dropped significantly. Every day, the United States needs approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells, nearly 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma to provide blood transfusions for major surgeries, treat patients and victims of trauma, and more. The American Red Cross, which provides about 40 percent of our nation’s blood and blood components, recently reported less than a five-day blood supply on hand. As of mid- March, over 4,000 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns and closures of schools and workplaces where these drives are usually held, resulting in over 100,000 fewer blood donations.

Recently, the FDA issued revised guidance related to blood donation policies for the LGBTQ community. This guidance reduced the wait period after sexual activity for gay and bisexual men from twelve months to three months. While this reform takes a step toward increasing blood donations made by healthy bisexual and gay men in a time when the nation’s supply of blood and blood products is at risk of collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not go far enough. Data from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law Williams Institute indicates that lifting restrictions completely, as compared to a 12-month waiting period, would produce more than 2 million additional eligible blood donors, including nearly 175,000 likely blood donors, and would produce nearly 300,000 pints of additional donated blood annually.

Attorney General Connors also argues that moving toward a risk-based model, rather than one based on gender and sexual orientation, is not only more appropriate to address the population’s needs but also in line with laws that protect against discrimination. A population-based policy singling out bisexual and gay men threatens the constitutional Equal Protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment. Over the long term, the FDA should instead look at risk behavior rather than sex for determining who should donate blood.

Attorney General Connors joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia.

Hawaii Attorney General Statement Regarding Suboxone Prescription for Opioid Detoxification

In light of recent inquiries regarding physicians’ legal authority to prescribe the drug Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, Attorney General Doug Chin today issued the following statement:

“Last week the state Narcotics Enforcement Division was asked whether a doctor may prescribe the drug Suboxone for opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. NED subsequently asked the Department of the Attorney General to review the relevant statute to determine how the law should be interpreted and applied. Our analysis has concluded that current portions of section 329-38 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes can be interpreted in more than one way, but within the context of the entire section, the existing practice of doctors who prescribe Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence may continue. It may be appropriate to clarify this statute during the next legislative session.”

suboxoneSuboxone is a prescription medicine that contains the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat adults who are addicted to opioids.

Hawaii Attorney General Launches Online Notary System

The Hawaii Attorney General, Notary Public Office has launched a new online Notary system at https://notary.eHawaii.gov/. The new system is designed to help the public quickly and easily submit and pay for their applications to become a Notary or renew their Notary Commission. It also provides the Notary staff with a platform to administer new applications and renewals from their mobile devices or desktops.

notary

“This new system will reduce the amount of manual data entry and manual payments processed”

“This new system will reduce the amount of manual data entry and manual payments processed,” said Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Shari Wong. “We’ll also reduce cost by eventually doing away with all the paper-based reminders and letters. This is part of the Attorney General’s continued efforts to transform how we can serve our customers more efficiently and effectively.”

The mobile version of the system optimizes touch screen technology and smart phone interfaces by providing larger text, buttons designed for touch response and layouts for smaller screens. This provides speed and efficiency on a platform that enables the Notary Public office to quickly implement additional improvements and realize future cost savings.

The online Notary application was developed at no cost to the state and is maintained via the eHawaii.gov program, a largely self-funded public-private partnership between the State of Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Information Consortium LLC (HIC), a Hawai‘i corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of eGovernment firm NIC Inc..

 

 

Hawaii Attorney General Subpoenas Twitter to Get User Information

The Hawaii Attorney General has subpoenaed Twitter to get a user’s information:

Twitter Terroistic Threatening

I’m not real sure about the case myself but snipped this for folks to see more about it:

Click twice to enlarge

Click twice to enlarge

Here is the note that the Twitter user got:

From: Twitter Legal
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2013 17:25:17 -0700
Subject: Twitter Receipt of Legal Process
To: lzr9@interpol.it

Dear Twitter User:

We are writing to inform you that Twitter has received the attached legal process, dated April 23, 2013, regarding your Twitter account, @lzr9. This legal process obligates Twitter to produce information related to your account. One of our core values is to defend and respect the user’s voice. Accordingly, it is our policy to notify users of requests for their account information prior to disclosure unless we’re prohibited from doing so by law. We are notifying you of this legal process in order to allow you to decide whether or not you will oppose the production of the requested information, either by filing a motion with the court where the legal process was issued or contacting the requesting party directly.

Please be advised that Twitter is required to respond to this request by May 1, 2013. If we do not receive notice from you that a motion to quash the legal process will or has been filed, or that this matter has been otherwise resolved, we may produce some or all of the requested information. Please let us know as soon as possible if you intend to file a motion with the court, and send us a copy of what has been filed. If you have resolved the matter with the requesting party, please have them send us confirmation that the legal process is withdrawn. We cannot give you any legal advice, but suggest that you may wish to seek your own legal counsel in this matter. If you need assistance seeking counsel in the United States, you may consider contacting the Electronic Frontier Foundation

You can read a bit more into what’s going on here:   http://cryptome.org/2013/04/lzr9/twitter-lzr9.htm

Safeway Settles Federal Lawsuit From Deceptive Labeling of “Safeway Select Kona Blend Coffee”

Safeway Stores has settled a federal court lawsuit brought by a California consumer alleging damages from deceptive labeling of “Safeway Select Kona Blend Coffee”.

Safeway Select

In August of 2011, California resident Chanee Thurston filed a class action complaint stating that she and other consumers had been mislead by the labeling of “Safeway Select Kona Blend Coffee ” packages which did not disclose that any of the coffee contained in the packages was grown in regions other than Kona on the Island of Hawaii.  The plaintiff alleged that, in fact, these Kona Blend packages contained only a small proportion of Kona beans, if any, and that the vast majority of the coffee was from other unidentified regions.   The complaint sought recovery of more than $5,000,000 for consumers who purchased “Safeway Select Kona Blend Coffee” after August 30, 2007.

Safeway in response asserted that use of the words “Kona Blend” did not indicate that a majority of the beans in the package were grown in Kona and that those words fairly alerted consumers that the packages contained a mix of other different types of unidentified coffees in addition to Kona beans. Safeway also contended that the relief sought by Ms. Thurston should be limited because in 2012 (in response to actions of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association) Safeway had increased the Kona coffee in the blend to a minimum of 10% and changed the labels to reflect that minimum 10% and to disclose that up to 90% of the contents was Latin American-grown coffee.

After almost two years of litigation, including extensive discovery and expenditure of considerable legal resources by both sides, the parties have reached an agreed resolution of the case.  With a hearing on potentially dispositive cross motions for summary judgment scheduled for June 7, 2013, the lawyers for Ms. Thurston and for Safeway filed an agreed stipulation for dismissal of the case on March 21, 2013.  The papers in the court file do not disclose the terms—monetary or otherwise–agreed by Safeway and Ms. Thurston in connection with the settlement of the lawsuit.

The stipulated dismissal settles only the claims between Ms. Thurston and Safeway–and prevents the court from proceeding to decide important legal issues raised by the class action allegations in the Complaint.  Dismissal of the case leaves thousands of consumers (other than Ms. Thurston) who purchased “Safeway Select Kona Blend Coffee” after August 30, 2007, with no recovery for the damages described in the Complaint.

Kona coffee growers are disappointed that the stipulated dismissal leaves unresolved what they believe is the key question raised by the lawsuit—that is, Does use of the name “Kona” on packages of coffee containing little, if any, coffee actually grown in Kona violate federal and state consumer protection and fair marketing laws?

Kona Coffee Farmers Association President Cecelia Smith observed, “Kona coffee growers had hoped that a court decision on the legal issues in the Safeway case would encourage the Hawaii Legislature and the Hawaii Attorney General to begin providing the types of protections that, for example, California provides to Napa Valley Wine, Idaho to Idaho Potatoes, and Georgia to Vidalia Onions.  We are disappointed that there was no court decision on the issues presented by this case.