First medical cannabis dispensaries now open

Christopher Garcia
Larry L. Medina

Two dispensaries in Hawai’i were approved in the first week of August to sell medical cannabis to qualified patients, 17 years after Hawaiʻi first OK’d the use of it for medicinal purposes.

The dispensaries that were approved were Maui Grown Therapies on Maui, and Aloha Green on O’ahu. Six more cannabis dispensaries are awaiting approval.

Hawaiʻi was one of the first states to approve the use of medical cannabis, 17 years ago. Until now, Hawaiʻi residents registered as medical marijuana patients have had no legal way to buy the drug.

For everyone else, however, the use of cannabis (the preferred professional and cultural term for marijuana), remains illegal in Hawaiʻi on the federal level.

Hawaiʻi law requires all qualified patients to be registered with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program before they begin to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. The registration process begins when an appropriately licensed physician certifies that the patient has a health condition that can benefit from medical cannabis. The patient is registered when the Department of Health issues a “329 Registration Card.” The department’s goal is to issue the patient’s 329 Registration Card in a timely manner so that patients can begin or continue to legally use medical cannabis.

To qualify for a 329 Card, one must either have a “debilitating medical condition” or “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” recognized under the law. This is done via screening from a certified medical cannabis consultant. The process can take an average of 32 days, but there are several welcoming consultants that help applicants through it.

One such person is Paul Klink, founder and certified medical cannabis consultant for the Honolulu Wellness Center. His clinic provides screening for patients and helps them fill out the necessary forms. He can also “legally give you recommendations about variety to mitigate your symptoms or ailment, to what you can expect.”

The Department of Health is also required to provide law enforcement officials with limited access to the Medical Cannabis Registry Program’s database as a tool to safeguard the community against illegal cannabis use and/or illegal cannabis grow sites.

Until now, it was legal for people with a medical cannabis card to have and use it, but they werenʻt able to buy it legally until the state changed the law in 2015.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance oversees the dispensary licensure program to monitor the quality of the cannabis products from seed to sale. This includes statewide oversight of the laboratories that test the safety and quality of the cannabis and manufactured cannabis products, and monitoring of the dispensaries that will grow, manufacture, and sell the products to qualified patients.

Advocates of medical cannabis have hailed the dispensary program as a major breakthrough. The goal of the dispensary licensure program is to make medicinal products readily available to registered patients while balancing the health and safety of patients and the public.

Hawaiʻi approved its first laboratory in August to begin testing samples of medical cannabis.
Steep Hill Hawaiʻi, a Honolulu-based firm, was granted a provisional certificate after successfully demonstrating a “capacity and proficiency to test cannabis” and make sure marketed products are in compliance with state law.

“Certification follows a rigorous scientific process that requires meticulous attention to detail and constant refining to ensure product and patient safety,” said Chris Whelen, chief of DOH’s state Laboratories Division.

The change in the law holds significant impacts to its supporters — the patients, the medical professionals, and the dispensaries.

Klink does not just send patients on their way after they complete their application. He says, “you’re part of our ohana.”

He is extremely passionate about his work, saying that “seeing you smile and seeing you happy is what [he is] doing this for.”

One of his patients was a “23-year-old, confused autistic child, [who] never said a word of English in his life,” Klink says, “Two days later, [the patient] looks at his dad and calls him ‘dad.’ ”

He recounted another moment when he went to one of his patient’s funerals. At the funeral’s end, the patient’s son said to Paul, “Uncle Paul, thank you for getting my mom out of the opiate cloud and giving her back to us with giggles and conversations for the last three weeks.”

Klink is a patient, as well. He has hypoxia (low oxygen), “many” cardiac implants, and had his thyroid removed due to cancer. Klink says, “The only reason I’m sitting in front of you, I believe, is because of Cannabis.” He also says that “…it’s not as good as as the proponents want you to believe it is, it’s not as bad as the detractors want you to believe it is, but it’s really good for what it’s good for…”

When legalized in 2000, Klink got his 329 Card to try Cannabis. He says, “A few years later, I was able to stop all opiates and use cannabis exclusively to mitigate Level Ten pain all the time.”

Me Fuimaono-Poe, founder of the Malie Cannabis Clinic, also certifies patients for medical cannabis use. She says that she wants to create a “comfortable and safe environment” for her patients as they go through their applications. This is to ensure that patients are relaxed and comfortable enough to talk about sensitive issues.

Mahalo for reading. Here’s a Letter from (not) the Editor – click on this link:

Letters from (not) the Editor

Kamehameha Day Parade 2017 (set #2)

Larry L. Medina out on assignment photographing pa’u riders, ali’i, royal escorts and kupuna at the annual Kamehameha Day Parade, 10 June 2017. Nikon D200, 28-80mm G Nikkor lens.

Kamehameha Day Parade 2017 (set #1)

Eddie Meza braves the wet drizzly morning to shoot the 101st Kamehameha Day Parade off Ala Moana Blvd., June 10, 2017. Canon T2i, Tamron 28-200 lens.

Diving Sharks Cove? Some Tips and Essentials

Eddie Meza

Sharks Cove is a popular attraction for snorkelers and free divers alike, but take a few minutes to look at the cove through my eyes as I explore its caves and tunnels just under the surface.

DIVE SITE
Sharks Cove is located on the North Shore of O’ahu and is part of Pupukea Beach Park. For those that might be discouraged by the name there is no need to worry – the name comes from the shape of the reef when seen from above (although you might run into a juvenile white tip reef shark from time to time). The big attractions to this dive site are the diverse marine life, as well as the underwater rock formations, making it ideal for beginner to intermediate divers. The caves and tunnels that are about 15-45 feet below the surface are great for experienced divers to explore. Keep in mind that there is no lifeguard on duty, so stay alert and practice safe dive procedures at all times.

DIVE SITE DESCRIPTION
Layout: The terrain is jagged and I recommend you use dive booties for traverse the entry points. There are two main entry points: the “elevator” that is located to the right of the cove (see map), and the lower “walk in” area. Both areas can be slippery, so use caution when entering the water. As always, take a few minutes to examine the water conditions. Moderate to large waves at the site can throw you into some rocks at the entry points. Keep in mind that if you plan on exploring the tunnels that a surge under water can cause serious injury or worse, so take your time to assess the dive conditions before you decide to enter.

Points of Interest: The opening of the cove is full of life and is great to explore the small overheads. If you go to the right of reef you will encounter a small cavern. Pass that reef finger you will encounter a few more caverns and tunnels that are a blast to explore. If you find yourself at the last and largest cavern, keep in mind that at the back is an opening that a few divers have not survived – I highly recommend that you DO NOT enter this area; tunnels like this are for experienced divers with extensive training in cavern exploration.

Before you dive, remember to always dive with a buddy. Go over your pre-dive safety check, hand signals and emergency procedures (See Below).

ACCOMMODATIONS
Sharks cove has a restroom area as well as a shower. If you get hungry there are plenty of food trucks just across the road as well as a Foodland. As always bring at the minimum some water to stay hydrated, and a first aid kit is always a good idea.

Remember leave only bubbles and take only memories, have fun!

Pre-Dive Safety Check
B (BCD)
• BCD secure and functioning properly?
• Low pressure inflator attached?
• Appropriately filled for entry?
• Buddy familiar with operation?
• Cylinder secure?
W (Weights)
• Amount of weight appropriate?
• System free and clear for emergency release?
R (Releases)
• All buckles and releases functional?
• Locate releases without looking?
• Buddy Familiar with operation?
A (Air)
• Sufficient air for dive?
• Valve turned on all the way?
• Alternate air source properly located?
• Familiar with buddy’s alternate air source?
• Air pressure at which to turn dive?
F (Final Okay)
• General check of buddy – nothing odd or out of place?
• Fins, Mask and snorkel ready?
• Prepare to enter water

Buddy Separation
1. If one gets separated from a dive buddy, stop and do a slow visual 360-degree spin remembering to look both upwards and downwards trying to spot your buddies bubbles if possible.

  1. If you are carrying a tank-banger or an audio buddy signaling device, use it to see if your buddy can locate you from the sound.
  2. If you have a dive light on you, and visibility is low, use the light while doing your slow 360 degree spin to help your buddy locate you, or grab the attention of your buddy who could be behind a terrain feature or outcrop.

  3. Having spent a minute looking for your buddy in this manner, ascend to the surface slowly, while remembering to perform your safety stop.

  4. While at your safety stop deploy your SMB or “Safety Sausage” so that if your buddy is looking for you at the surface, he knows where you are. And perform another 360 spin looking in all directions for signs of your missing buddy.

  5. At the surface wait for your buddy to surface, while continuing to look to spot the air bubbles at the surface if conditions permit or if you were doing a boat dive return to the boat and inform the boat that you are missing a buddy.

  6. Do not re-descend once you have surfaced.

  7. If the missing buddy carries out the same procedure then the buddy pair should meet up again at the surface or near the surface.

  8. Always ensure you go over your plan for missing buddy discussing where and how long to wait before surfacing with your dive buddy before every dive.

6/24/17 Sorry, forgot to include my email Eddie. Would like to dive 8/9-8/17. My wife, son and I are PADI open water certified.

6/24/17 Hi Eddie. My wife, son and I will be on O’ahu 8/9-8/17 and would like to do some diving. How do we contact you?

6/19/17 Saving this article for next time I pass through Hawai’i! Mahalo Eddie!

6/9/17 I enjoyed this one!

6/9/17 I have been diving with Eddie at Sharks cove with my son, he was our guide. As an ex-commercial hardhat diver, I can truly say Eddie is a true professional but at the same time never loses sight of enjoying the dive. I look forward to my return trip next month to dive with him again. Would highly recommend him to anyone wanting a top notch dive guide / instructor. Aloha and mahalo Eddie!

Tiki’s Grill and Bar, Waikiki, O’ahu

Larry L. Medina
lmedina@hawaii.edu

“Hello, so you are reporters doing a story on Tiki’s?” said the beaming California gal warmly as she came up to our table. She was Sarah Mendoza, manager of Tiki’s Grill and Bar (NOT “Bar and Grill,” as most places would have it). This was after Chris’ plate of miso butterfish and a Volcanic Sunset, and my order of ginger soy grilled salmon with a Miller Lite. Adam Lapenita, food and drink staff writer for the blogsite Thrillist, wrote in a review that tiki bars are all about three things: exotic drinks, delicious food, and warm hospitality. Tiki’s, the quiessential Waikiki stereotype of what a tourist expects a tiki bar should serve up and look like, met all these requirements, and more.

Chris, one of our writers, and I were seated at the far wall of the restaurant (and Tiki’s IS a restaurant, with its vast oasis of tables and chairs taking up the second floor of the Aston, and while by no means intimate and snug like the much more smaller bars I’ve visited, tiki-themed or not, its atmosphere is quite laid-back). There IS a bar in Tiki’s, and I could see it a distance away from where we sat.

No matter: the decor was decidedly (and stereotypically) Polynesian, in that 1950’s-style middle-class American vision of the exotic Pacific: bamboo-framed scenes of tropical shores hung off moss rock walls; gaudy tiki statues representing no god in particular, backlit by lamps emanating shades of deep orange and thick red, conjuring a facsimile of lava; large netted glass fishing floaters; glossed wooden tables matched to plantation-style padded wooden chairs, and I think I spotted some rattan ones as well near the bar (hey, isn’t rattan Asian?); and ginormous sheets of lauhala that subtituted as a false ceiling. The restaurant is ringed with gas-lit torches on the corner of Kalakaua and Paoakalani Ave’s for everyone NOT to notice.

To Tiki’s credit, the place is not overly-immersed in the tiki bar kitch. Looking round, I was relieved nobody had been served a drink out of a coconut (I found out later that they do, using a facsimile of one). In fact, I don’t recall seeing anything alluding to a coconut. Instead, Chris and I were rewarded with a line of coconut trees growing along Kalakaua Ave in our line of sight toward Waikiki Beach, as the restaurant squarely faces the south shore of O’ahu. There was no live music the night we went (perhaps the musicians were off that nite). Both our server and the general manager were NOT bedecked in plastic lei, nor were they wearing any Hawaiian print clothing ala Magnum, P.I. – thank God for that, and I say this as a local.

Our server did speak to me a bit in Hawaiian, once he found out I was studying the language (he had taken classes through the UH system and spoke better olelo Hawai’i than me). The manager was also a product of UH, and had even played volleyball for the school (yes, THAT Sarah Mendoza – 2014, remember?) They spent minutes talking with us when they clearly should have been attending to other patrons, but I will hazard that, we being all from the UH ohana, they were happy to give us more than the time of day.

The food’s good. The drinks are good. The place is reasonable and inexpensive for the average struggling community college student putting in 19 hours a week at an on-campus job (or a tired professor putting in 60). The employees are solid. The decor isn’t overkill. The dining area has space to stretch out without bumping into the next table over. I say, go for it. It’s a place for us locals to play tourist in our own backyard.

Location: 2nd floor Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Cuisine: American and Asian-Pacific fusion

Environment/Decor: casual; aloha wear

Price: $$
Contact: sarahm@tikisgrill.com
Website: http://www.tikisgrill.com
Phone: 808-923-8454
Address: 2570 Kalakaua Ave. Honolulu HI 96815
 
Parking: 3-hour free valet

COMMENTS
6/8/17 This is a thorough and informative review that has actually convinced me to try out Tiki’s, and hardly anything can get me to Waikīkī these days. I enjoyed the descriptions, and I am impressed at how much information you embedded in a good story. Nice work, Larry. EPS
Mahalo nui, doc. I would not have been able to write at this level had it not been for a good ass-kicking when I took your WI class – LLM

6/8/17 Good read. Well definitely check this place out once I step foot back on the rock 😆😆 and of course I’ll be drinking something from a Coconut lol
Annette, next time you in town, we will BOTH order something gaudy and ridiculous out of a coconut – LLM

6/7/17 If you haven’t already done so, you should quit ATS and become a journalist
Actually, I quit journalism to become a counselor, because it pays more – LLM