Big Island man Mike Ruggles launched a crowdfunding campaign this week to help pay for legal fees after being arrested for opening Hawaii’s first medical marijuana collective. Ruggles says this is an opportunity to help set legal precedence to establish medical marijuana collectives in Hawaii.
Ruggles had opened the Alternative Pain Management Pu’uhonua Collective on January 2nd, where patients with a medical marijuana certification could transfer marijuana between themselves. In order to stay in compliance with the 4 ounce limit members could dispose of their excess marijuana to other members in need. According to former nurse and collective volunteer Brittany Neal, “the marijuana itself was not ‘sold’ but rather ‘transferred’ for just compensation at a cost set by each member that included the electricity, fertilizer, and other direct costs that went into creating the marijuana.”
Collective members also had access to tinctures, concentrates, a MyDx purity testing machine, a vacuum purge oven, and consultation on cultivation, processing, and consumption of medical marijuana.
After the police raided and arrested Ruggles on September 10th, the collective has since closed, and Hawaii marijuana patients are back to finding medicine through the black market or going without. Ruggles is being charged with running an “unpermitted dispensary” and is facing 77 years in prison. According the Indiegogo campaign page, Ruggles had “noticed a change in the definition of ‘medical use’ in Hawaii’s medical marijuana law and combined with State and Federal laws, saw an opportunity for patients to help each other.”
“The collective was the first way for sick people to acquire their doctor recommended medicine since the program started 15 years ago. It doesn’t make sense that their trying to throw the only person doing this legally in prison,” said Ruggles, “The legal framework for collectives is already here, they’re legal, it’s going to trial and we’re going to win this.”