News from Representative Gabbard


March 28, 2017


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a number of our prisons and jails across our islands, and saw firsthand the crumbling infrastructure, the extreme overcrowding, facilities in dire need of upgrades, as well as a shortage of resources to provide services necessary to help rehabilitate and empower inmates so we can reduce recidivism rates. 

We spend $80 billion annually to maintain our federal prisons, where nearly half of the inmate population is there for non-violent drug offenses. (Above: Touring Maui Community Correctional Center to talk with inmates and corrections officers about reducing recidivism)

Like states across the country, Hawai'i has spent huge amounts of taxpayer dollars over the years to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges—a drug that has been proven time and time again to be far less dangerous than alcohol, both for individual consumers as well as for the people around them. Along with a growing body of evidence suggesting the medicinal benefits of marijuana—including preventing epileptic seizures, reducing anxiety, and halting the growth of cancer cells—studies also show that deaths from opioid abuse have dropped by at least 25% in states that have passed medical marijuana laws.

Our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals, sending them to jail, ruining their lives, and tearing apart families. The fiscal and social impacts of our current policies are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and our communities. Our outdated marijuana and criminal justice policies need to change.

I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation with my colleague Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), a fellow Army veteran and former prosecutor, to federally decriminalize marijuana. While Hawai'i is among states that have accepted the medical use of marijuana under state law, contradictions between state and federal law have created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses. Decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level will reduce the strain on our criminal justice system, create certainty, reduce costs to taxpayers, and update our federal laws to meet the needs of our communities.

Click on the photo below to watch my speech on the floor of the U.S. House calling for this bipartisan, common sense, and long overdue change:


Defeating the GOP’s Harmful Healthcare Bill
I'm happy to report that the proposed American Health Care Act (H.R.1628) was pulled from the House floor Friday due to lack of support. It's a terrible bill that was basically written by and for insurance and pharmaceutical corporations on the backs of the most needy and vulnerable. There are serious problems with our healthcare system that must be addressed, but this bill was not the solution—it would have just made things worse. This is not the end. We must continue to work for a healthcare system that puts the health and well-being of people first. Click here to read my full statement.

Passed Legislation to Improve Accountability for Veterans Health Care
Bipartisan legislation I co-introduced to address the growing problem of VA medical centers operating without permanent directors passed the House. In Hawai'i and many other states, veterans have gone without a permanent VA health center director for more than a year. The legislation directs the VA Secretary to prioritize hiring qualified, accountable leaders to serve our veterans and their families. The mission of the VA is to take care of our veterans, and to do so they need strong, accountable leaders who are committed to that mission.

President’s Proposed Budget
The President recently delivered his proposed budget to Congress for the upcoming year. I have grave concerns about many areas of this budget that make harmful cuts across the board, including to programs that families in Hawai'i depend on, and that I’ve long fought to protect, like the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Meals on Wheels that so many of our kupuna rely on. It makes massive funding cuts that will have a damaging effect on our environment, and undo much of the progress that’s been made. Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve worked to support a federal budget that strengthens our country and serves the people. I will continue to stand up to protect our people and our planet, and oppose harmful budget cuts that jeopardize our most vulnerable.

With Aloha,

Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress (HI-02)


P.S.  Follow me on social media to stay updated and share your ideas by clicking on the icons above!


Unsubscribe | Privacy Policy