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August 2006

September 2006

Hawaii's Voter Turnout (Sue Miller)
Hillside Development Above Ka Iwi State Park
Affordable Shelter Committee (Jackie Parnell)
Rail Transit Meeting on August 28 (Charles Carole)
Membership News (Teresa Lau)
LWV Committee to Study Hawaii Drug Policy (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
League Urges Governor to Save Kukui Gardens (Jackie Parnell)

LWV Committee To Study Hawaii Drug Policy

The Women's Health & Safety Committee met with two representatives of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, Pam Lichty, President, and Jeanne Ohta, Executive Director. The Forum is recognized as a credible force opposing the current drug policy of the Hawaii state legislature. We discussed that policy and how to proceed with our own drug policy study.

There are many questions we want to address, including the following:

  1. Should drug abuse be viewed as a public health problem and not just a criminal matter?
  2. To what extent is drug abuse the reason for Hawaii's prison overcrowding and the need for using mainland prisons?
  3. Are prevention and treatment programs more effective in reducing drug abuse than expensive criminal sanctions?
  4. Do current policies take a heavier toll on disadvantaged communities than on others, exacerbating the social conditions that created drug abuse in the first place?
  5. Do pregnant women with histories of substance use have access to programs and facilities equipped to provide prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care?
  6. Is violence against women and other circumstances, specific to women's involvement in drug-related activities, overlooked or ignored?

LWV of Seattle is part of large coalition promoting a public health approach to the societal problem of substance abuse as a more effective alternative to the use of the criminal sanction. In 2005 the LWV of Texas completed a study of Drug Laws and Policies in Texas. Their position is that substance abuse and drug addiction are public health issues. They support drug abuse prevention, education and drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration.

In the fall we will announce our timetable for our League study in Hawaii.

Suzanne Meisenzahl
Committee Chair
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