Hawaii Update: Big Island Still Waiting to Open Dispensaries

Six out of eight dispensaries that sell MMJ in Hawaii have opened on all the major islands except Hawaii Island.
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Although it has been a year since Hawaii legalized recreational cannabis and nearly a decade since it approved medical, there are still no retail dispensaries selling cannabis on the Big Island.

Six out of eight dispensaries that sell MMJ in Hawaii have opened on all the major islands except Hawaii Island, which has by far the most medical patients, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

A Big Island dispensary was expected to open as early in December 2016, but local red tape caused significant delays.

“Going through the county processing did cause some delays, more than expected by any of us,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the state Health Department’s Office of Health Care Assurance admitted. “More requirements mean, of course, longer processing times.”

Although Hawaii has had legal MMJ since 2000, patients have had no legal way to obtain it.

The Big Island facilities have had a harder time getting off the ground partly because of geography.

Two businesses have run into issues with adequate water supply for firefighting, reported the Hawaii Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau.

“They put it in locations that didn’t have the proper infrastructure,” said the fire chief. “One facility ended up having to install their own water source and fire pump, which took a long time.”

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Ethos, one of the dispensaries expecting to open on the Big Island, is getting inquiries from patients who have been waiting for dispensaries to arrive, said Zachary Taffany, Hawaiian Ethos’ chief operating officer.

“Both licensees on the Big Island still haven’t received permission to cultivate,” he said.

Richard Ha, a Big Island farmer and CEO of the other dispensary, Lau Ola, is also eager to get started after spending time on multiple delays.

Both dispensaries are hoping to open by year’s end.

“Time is money. It just kills us to delay but if we want to have a long-term successful operation we got to do it just precisely,” Ha, who has invested millions into the marijuana venture, told the Associated Press.

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