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Your Views for March 19

They didn’t listen

Big Island medical cannabis patients for the most part have lost hope. Our Legislature bought totally into the corporatization of dispensaries. No matter how hard advocates and patients tried to move them in the right direction, representatives passed dispensary legislation that actually does great harm to most patients.

Cases in point:

1. We told them we needed at least 26 conveniently located dispensaries. They gave us eight monopoly licenses statewide, with licenses costing $75,000 (a rich wo/man’s game).

2. We told them that producers (growers) and dispensaries should be separate operations, allowing small producers a share of the market. They gave us another monopoly where the production and dispensing are controlled by the same rich owner.

3. We told them to allow cooperatives (hui) where patients could procure medicine inexpensively. This did not even get a hearing this year.

4. We told them that caregivers should remain in the program, allowing poor and fixed-income patients to obtain very low-cost medicine. They’re phasing out our caregivers.

How could they get it so wrong? Answer: Follow the money.

Is it any wonder patients and advocates are fed up? And, when one of our staunchest legislative supporters says, “We need to go kind of slow right now,” we know we have little support in Honolulu. Patients know what slow is, as we’ve been waiting (and suffering) for 17 years.

What will happen now: Statewide patient numbers will mushroom, and the demand for cannabis will soar. Once dispensaries open (maybe this year), the medicine will be prohibitively priced, highly taxed and out of reach for all but the wealthiest of patients. Although tourists will have no problem buying it all up, thus assuring the dispensary owners their huge profit.

Those factors will drive most of us back into the black market. It is ironic that the Legislature’s stated intention in creating dispensaries was to stop the black market. In reality, it will actually lend fuel to a burgeoning illegal market in the coming years. An unintended consequence? Maybe not.

It is not wrong to have dispensaries. However, when the main priority becomes maximizing revenue for government coffers and a few dispensary owners, the patients lose out. By smelling the money rather than demonstrating compassion for the sick and dying, our legislators have thrown the baby out with the bong water. It could have had a far better outcome if they had just listened to the medical cannabis community from the beginning.

Andrea Tischler

Chairwoman, Big Island Americans for Safe Access

Keaukaha eyesore

I doubt I am the only person who drives up the road toward Richardson Ocean Park on a regular basis and has to endure the eyesore that the structures on the makai side of the street, across from the Hawaiian immersion charter school, have turned into as a result of having been abandoned by Kamehameha Schools.

When the premises were occupied by the delightful little ice cream shop and the tiny grocery store, they were kept to very acceptable standards.

An institution as well-to-do as Kamehameha Schools should be ashamed to allow the Keaukaha neighborhood to be degraded as they have been for the past three years.

Kamehameha, on the one hand, brings youth to the area to malama aina, working on the fishpond area and taking care of the native plants and natural environment. All of their effort is meaningless and hypocritical if they turn around and make a mess of the neighborhood.

The caretakers of the Kamehameha lands should be ashamed.

Tom Goltz



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