Friday, November 14, 2008

Updated at 8:11 p.m., Thursday, November 13, 2008

Medicinal marijuana advocate arrested on Maui

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Maui Bureau

PA'IA, Maui — The head of a medical marijuana advocacy group on Maui and six other men have been charged with running a drug trafficking ring.

The suspects were arrested Tuesday following a two-year investigation surrounding the Patients Without Time organization located on Baldwin Avenue in Pa'ia, said Capt. Gerald Matsunaga of the Maui Police Department.

As part of the investigation dubbed Operation Weedkiller, Maui police, assisted by other county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, recovered more than 335 plants, nearly 16 pounds of marijuana, a small amount of hashish and more than $14,000 in cash from several homes and businesses, he said.

"They exploited the medicinal marijuana laws to sell marijuana to turn a financial profit," Matsunaga said.

State Rep. Joe Bertram III, D-11th (Kihei, Wailea, Makena), today defended Patients Without Time and its director, Brian Murphy, 53, who was indicted on 13 offenses, including criminal conspiracy and commercial promotion of marijuana. Bertram said the organization provides marijuana to the disabled and critically ill patients legally registered under the state's medical marijuana law.

"It's a godsend to sick people here on Maui. It's heartbreaking. A lot of people now are left in the lurch. They were getting a medicine that's safe and reliable and now it's gone," Bertram said.

"How are these people who have these permits supposed to have access to this medicine that the state said is available to them? This is major problem."

Bertram, who obtained a medical marijuana permit in 2005 after suffering a serious illness, said he is not officially connected to Patients Without Time but is familiar with the group. He said any money the organization accepted in payment for marijuana is used to subsidize patients who can't arrange for their own supplies.

He said Murphy is "very strict" about making sure marijuana is provided only to certified patients.

Murphy did not return calls today seeking comment.

Matsunaga said Hawai'i's medical marijuana law does not allow the sale of marijuana, and that the drug ring used Patients Without Time and the state's medical marijuana laws group "to disguise their drug trafficking organization." The illegal enterprise even hired men to provide protection for the illicit operation, he said.

Reach Christie Wilson at

No comments: