I spoke on the senate floor about my friend, Share Christie:

Share Christie “Last Friday, on 4/20 or Hemp Day, I mentioned my friend Share Christie, serving several years in Honolulu Federal Detention Center. I realize federal prison is not our kuleana, but I need to tell you about her, otherwise no one will know.

I’ve visited Share many times. This week, I learned that Share’s visitation privileges were revoked; no coherent explanation was provided.

For the 4 years her husband Roger Christie was imprisoned, no visits were allowed from Share for 3 of those years. They waited until Roger was released, then put Share in for at least 3 years. Husband Roger Christie is not allowed to visit. Her husband is not allowed to visit her!

I hope you can see this is not normal incarceration. Someone has made a decision, here in our Aloha state, to inflict maximum pain and suffering to this peaceful, non-violent couple. We all remain silent about it.

Share has also been denied medical treatment for a very painful injury, and denied extra blankets and pillows to be more comfortable. I repeat, She does not get to see a doctor, after months of requesting help. In our name, this is how we are treating two of the most peaceful, loving people I’ve ever met. What kind of society does this?

Some might say they deserve it: after all, they broke the law.

Roger operated what he called a Cannabis ministry: they used cannabis as a sacrament. To some it may sound outlandish, but I assure you Roger is the real deal; A true believer following his calling . He has shown me documents he’s collected about the religious use of cannabis going back to, and including, biblical mentions and the anointing oil used by Jesus of Nazareth

He operated with full knowledge and approval of our Mayor, police chief, and Attorney General. When a new mayor or police chief came along, he informed them. He believes in what they were doing, hid nothing, and hurt no one.

The Feds busted them. Roger, true believer that he is, wanted a trial, believing a jury of his peers would not convict him. But at trial he was not allowed to present their well-prepared, legally solid religious freedom defense. And because Roger had refused a plea deal, they were imprisoned.

So now Share Christie sits in federal prison. Her neighbors are serious meth dealers and violent hardened criminals; she does not deserve it.

Friday I discussed the environmental damage of 70 years of oil burning and deforestation, completely unnecessary, due to hemp prohibition.

I add to that the rise in opioid addiction and deaths, which destroys lives, also unnecessarily. Two of the states with legal cannabis have seen decreases of 25% in opioid addiction and deaths. Nothing we are now considering will bring such a benefit. Of course, just as with the timber and oil industries, now we can add the Pharmaceutical industry which profits obscenely from this suffering. I hope you can all see this prohibition is not random, is not without dire consequences, and is supported by deep-seated corruption from these industries.

We should stop being a party to it.

I met some years ago with a constituent disabled veteran who was seeking a source for legal medical cannabis. He had a card but no supplier. He explained how much this helps him when available, and showed me what he has to take when it’s not: Oxycontin and another opioid pain reliever. There is still no legal medical cannabis available on our island. Is this caution, as we like to say, or is it recklessness?

My neighborhood once had a cannabis based economy. After a crackdown on such illegal plants, the meth epidemic replaced it. It was like night and day, and today we still face increased violence and crime due to meth and heroin. There is no one in my neighborhood who thinks the meth era is preferable to the cannabis era.

Barack Obama said the problem with cannabis criminalization is this: Poor people go to prison for it, but wealthy people do not. I need not tell you that people of color, including native peoples, disproportionately suffer this punishment.

If I’ve taken up a few minutes of your time, I hope you’ll forgive me. I do it for my friend Share Christie, suffering 24/7 for years in a high security facility, in our town, at our taxpayer expense, who has no voice and whose story must be heard.

Several years ago, Senator Espero, as then-Chair of Public Safety Committee, joined me in visiting Roger Christie. I thank him for joining me, because I was afraid they would not let me back out! Our visit resulted in better treatment for him and some attention to his case. After his scheduled release date passed, he was held in limbo for many months longer than he should have been due to inaction by the authorities. When I scheduled a second visit, to be accompanied by more publicity, he was miraculously released.

I will be visiting Share again soon, given permission to do so. Again Senator Espero is willing to accompany me. I invite others to join us. If so it will bring attention to an injustice. If not please consider the real effects of our outdated, barbaric policy toward cannabis in general; massive environmental destruction, increased addictions to hard drugs both legal and street, and ruination of people’s lives.

This year we made modest adjustments to our medical cannabis program. Next year, we should decriminalize cannabis, or at the least, allow counties to regulate cannabis, as type of pilot program. The harmful effects of cannabis prohibition cause real harm to real people. It’s not theoretical; it’s not a joke. We need to take action, rise above the irrational, unjustifiable fear-mongering, and end the barbaric treatment of our citizens.

Thank you.

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