Monday, February 21, 2011


DOCTOR DOCTOR TELL ME THE NEWS: To simply call last week’s anti-pot council meeting a dog and pony show would be an insult to horses and hounds everywhere . And it would be to ignore the fall-on-the-floor side-splitting presentations of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri Carvalho and Keith Kamita, head of the state’s drug enforcement division of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Councilmember Mel Rapozo’s Pubic Safety Committee.

Iseri- as always mangling the English language with her best "Miss Malaprop" impression- began her “power point” with the word “Marijuana” flashed on the screen in a font reminiscent of the movie “Reefer Madness.” Then, in a spittle-laced rant, she did her fear-mongering, fact-free best to eviscerate any credibility she might have had.

Starting with the much discredited “gateway” theory she soon moved on to medical marijuana with an attack on sick people claiming that, despite clear language in the law, the program was “supposed to be” only for certain terminal patients, and stating that there was a “loophole” for use by those in pain- which, studies show is one of the most beneficial uses of cannabis.

“Doctor” Iseri then turned her rant to trying to convince no one in particular that pot causes violence- failing to understand that it the fact that it’s illegality that leads to any associated violence- and making the claim that the decriminalization of less than an ounce would “allow juveniles to possess” cannabis- a claim later repeated over and over whenever she felt trapped by the actual facts.

There’s also been some public discussion of her contention that an ounce of pot equals 50-60 “joints”. Considering that there’s 28 grams in an ounce and joints of ½ gram are common- although small- the stat might make sense.

But, in fact, in trying to make the claim Iseri held up giant gallon Zip-loc bag containing those 50 or so joints that the vice division of the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) had prepared, each of which were big enough to be called spliffs.

Among her other claims were that pot nowadays is 10 times stronger than in the 90’s and that plants now contain 37% THC.

We’re pretty sure there are lots of people out there that would like some of that 10-times-stronger, 37% THC pot.

“This is undisputed” she shrieked, adding that this apparently proves somehow that it’s “clearly an addictive drug,” even though no one has ever been physically addicted as commonly are with crystal methamphetamine or heroin abuse.

She then suggested that instead of medical marijuana people use the ineffective government substitute “Marinol” which contains only one of the elements of marijuana by filtering out all of the other beneficial parts used when smoking or ingesting the whole plant.

She prattled on for a while with the usual unsupported blather about how medical use was just a front for legalization, how it’s marketed to children, how “huge amounts of crime” are associated with compassion centers on the mainland- even trying to ridicule the term- and the “myth” that petty possession cases are clogging the courts.

But when she was done Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura, doing her best “Colombo” impression, first cited an actual study- one cited in the legislative decriminalization bills- showing the gateway claim is bogus.

Over and over she asked Iseri for her “studies” to support her facts to no avail. Finally Iseri admitted that everything she said was “our opinion” and that many of her “facts” were indeed the opinions of mainland police departments.

Yukimura, along with Councilperson Tim Bynum also put the lie to Iseri’s claim that the bill to decriminalize less than an ounce would “legalize” marijuana- a term she used repeatedly to try to claim that it would legalize pot use “by kids.”

In fact possession of less than an ounce would still be illegal but it would no longer be a criminal act, only a “violation” subject to a fine as in a parking ticket- a fact that Iseri admitted only after having been asked six- and yes we counted- times.

Iseri also couldn’t cite any study for her claim that pot uses four dollars in social services for every one dollar spent on buying it.

When it got to be Councilmember Dickie Chang’s turn he had apparently never heard of Marinol and, well frankly, he seemed to have much more interest in it than an academic inquiry might have generated.

One trick Iseri tried to use over and over was that, when trapped in her lack of documentation for anything she said she would immediately use misdirection to talk about either use by children or by those at work or operating heavy machinery.

Her sidekick Kamita- the one from the drug enforcement division- is actually the one who administers the medical marijuana program and in trying to show why he wanted to keep oversight in the DPS he made a great case for why the medical program should be taken away from someone like him who actually opposes the program and is more interested in arresting medical users who have a gram more than permitted than in their health.

That’s why one of the bills which Kamita, Iseri and Rapozo all oppose would transfer oversight to the Department of Health (DOH) where it is in every other state with a medical marijuana program and where regulation of any medicine belongs.

Yukimura finally described how the real issue has been access to marijuana for those for whom it is recommended by a doctor under the program and how dispensaries are actually a method that has worked in other states with few problems and actually with decreases in crimes associated with the illegality of pot.

Though Kamita first objected, defending his claim of crime increasing around dispensaries on the mainland, he finally admitted the he didn’t really know and was relying on the propaganda put out by some PDs and prosecutors in California- who of course also stand to lose federal and state grants and funding should the crime associated with illegality disappear.

Kamita and Iseri mumbled and stumbled through it all but finally, after having their excuses derided as nonsense, turned of course to the last refuge of these stragglers in the mid-20th century... saying it “sends the wrong message.”

What message is that? That both your jobs and much of you funding depends on marijuana interdiction?- something they and Rapozo scoffed at but of course couldn’t deny. The message that you’re the last bastion of those in denial at the real facts behind marijuana?

The fact that marijuana is really a “wonder drug” that treats many maladies?

But Rapozo, who was thus running the meeting, wasn’t about to let them look too out of touch and idiotic so he stopped the questioning and turned to public testimony.

That brought up the head of the KPD vice squad who, thankfully, brought some sanity to the discussion more or less deriding the “gateway” idiocy saying that “if you drink a glass of wine you’re not going to turn into a raging alcoholic” and, in answer to a question by Yukimura admitted that “not everyone” who uses pot turns to hard drugs.

He was followed by a handful of people, in favor of the state decriminalization, dispensary and transfer from DPS to Department of Health bills. Each was unceremoniously cut off by Rapozo after their three minutes and, although given an extra minute to “sum up,” were again cut off after another 45 seconds.

We mention that because they were followed by three county employees- two with the mayor’s anti-drug office and another the county attorney who serves KPD- each of whom was given around five minutes without interruption.

Finally Rapozo ended the session by saying “I will close with a very brief” statement and warbling on for almost 15 minutes waffling between statements like “I don’t oppose medical marijuana” and deriding use for things like migraine headaches and intractable, chronic pain.

Of course this was all before Rapozo’s and Iseri’s “anti-pot rally” fiasco last Thursday which that was shot down by the ACLU with a letter to the county regarding the use of county employees and resources to lobby or promote action on legislation- something that the Hawai`i and California courts have said is illegal.

We’ll comment on the letter later this week because it’s an issue that goes well beyond the medical or decimalization of marijuana issue. But if you want a uproarious evening of laugh-until-you-cry entertainment make sure to catch the Mel and Shay Show now playing on Channel 53.

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