Pubdate: Fri,  4 Oct 2002
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Contact:  2002 West Hawaii Today
Author: Tiffany Edwards
Note: For more medical cannabis and cannabis eradication in Hawaii go to


HILO - Police and some County Council members are revealing a different
perspective on how the county should conduct its marijuana eradication
program, reflecting more sensitivity to the rights of individuals.

Acting Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna is expected to give a presentation to
council members next week on the marijuana eradication program. 

For review by the Finance Committee 10 a.m. Tuesday, will be the police
marijuana eradication report for its Aug. 19 - 23 mission in which 12,418
plants were seized in East Hawaii. They will also consider a letter North
Kona resident Rhonda Robison recently wrote to Public Safety Director Ted
Sakai, and his response, on issues relating to medical marijuana. 

Robison, her husband, John, and their roommate Kealoha Wells were arrested
and had 20 of their marijuana plants seized from their residence in July. 

The Robisons and Wells hold Department of Public Safety - issued medical
marijuana cards. Rhonda Robison holds the card for her Charco - Marie Tooth
(CMT) muscular dystrophy, while John Robison and Wells are cardholders as a
result of suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia. 

Police maintained Robisons and Wells violated the state medical marijuana
law by not properly labeling which plants belonged to whom. Cardholders
legally can possess up to seven plants. A week after the incident they
returned to the Robisons and Wells a little over an ounce of dried marijuana
also been seized with the 20 plants. 

The Prosecuting Attorney's Office has yet to charge the Robisons and Wells.
Rhonda Robison said Thursday she was told that decision will be made by next
week's end. 

Acting Chief Mahuna could not be reached Thursday regarding what his
presentation will entail. 

Finance Committee Chair Aaron Chung however noted Mahuna has "demonstrated a
more compassionate approach to the marijuana enforcement issue" than other
chiefs he has dealt with on the council. 

Kohala Councilman Leningrad Elarionoff said he is "hoping the chief can tell
the council what all is involved, give a detailed description, in - depth
information as to why they fly so close to homes, and why the 1,000 - foot
height limit creates problems," namely by not being able to see marijuana
plants. A condition for police accepting the grant money is that helicopters
used in the Green Harvest missions cannot descend lower than 1,000 feet in
residential areas unless there is probable cause that plants are growing

The marijuana eradication program is funded by two federal grants - one for
$265,000 and another for $160,000. 

Chung acknowledged as long as marijuana is an illegal drug, police should be
going after "the large - scale operations on the island." However, he said
police should not be flying over residential areas. "Just go over the state
and conservation lands, and if you see anything go for it. Never mind the
residential areas, already," he said. 

"Marijuana eradication is a misnomer because we're not going to eradicate in
our lifetime. We'll never be able to stop the use of marijuana in our
lifetime, my grandkids' lifetime because it really is a part of American pop
culture, whether we like it or not," Chung said.

Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong said he feels "more and more council
members are taking a softer stance" on marijuana and he believes "it has
everything to do with the ice epidemic."

"The majority of the council would not go as far as supporting a moratorium
on the marijuana eradication program but they are re - thinking their
positions because of the ice epidemic," Yagong said. Yagong said the Police
Department Vice Division spends seven percent of its time on the eradication

He said Thursday the council should ask vice "some hard questions" about its
investigations and time spent on marijuana eradication.
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