Cannabis Issues & the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority (LLEP) of Cannabis:

Before Mike Ruggles began his Mayoral run, you likely read about his Alternative Pain Management Collective after a police raid and his arrest. Mike Ruggles was charged with running an “unpermitted dispensary” and was facing 77 years in prison. He was found not guilty after a lengthy court battle; ‘Cannabis Advocate Found Not Guilty’.

Could Mike have struck a deal and not gone to court? Yes. Was he fighting for something bigger than himself? Yes, Mike wanted to help sick people acquire their doctor recommended medicine. He has love and compassion for the patients he helped, he spent five years volunteering in hospice and believes deeply in improving everyone’s quality of life. During the ordeal Ruggles said the following, “The legal framework for collectives is already here, they’re legal, it’s going to trial and we’re going to win this.”

Additionally,  35,689 residents of Hawaii County voted in 2008 to make cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority(LLEP). As Mayor, Mike would follow all clear orders from the public. While, the current administration prefers not to push back on the state.

If you know anything about voter turnout in Hawaii you already know that getting 35,000+ people to show up for a single measure on a ballot is a feat in itself. But not respecting that vote is directly ignoring the will of the people.

Although the collective is no longer operating, and those patients are going without that medicine or finding other ways to obtain it.  Mike is still hopeful that those in need will one day have the rights they were promised.

More on LLEP…

LLEP was brought to the ballot and passed. The initiative passed by a margin of nearly 10,000 votes. The ordinance states that all other law enforcement activities should take precedence over the personal use of marijuana by adults on private property.
The people voted and the county didn’t listen.
Led by a Big Island group called Project Peaceful Sky, LLEP would bar police from going after people growing 24 plants or less or possessing 24 ounces of cannabis or less. It also orders the county to forego any state or federal funds to be used for controversial marijuana eradication efforts on the island.

For decades now, cannabis cultivation on the Big Island and law enforcement eradication efforts — especially those carried out by noisy, low-flying helicopters — have been a political issue. In 2000 and again recently, the county council refused federal eradication funds (although the county ended up providing such funding itself last year).

And what’s more, according to the ACLU’s original analysis, marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.

And locally, Hawaiians are more likely than any other race to be arrested on marijuana charges.

Hawaiʻi Tribune Herald reports: 

“Between Nov. 4, 2008, and April 30, 2012, of the 1,465 adults arrested on various marijuana charges, 373 were Hawaiians, accounting for 25.4 percent of total arrests. Those statistics were provided by police to the county council under provisions of county ordinance 08-181, a law passed by voter initiative making adult use of marijuana on private property the “lowest law enforcement priority.”

At 8.5 percent of the Big Island’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaiians have the highest marijuana arrest rate, almost three times their population.”