I always say that a state's medical marijuana program is only as good as the ability for patients to safely and easily access medicine. So if a state doesn't allow patients to grow their own medical marijuana, or designate another person to do so, then that state's medical marijuana program will never reach its full potential. The same is true if a state does not allow medical marijuana dispensaries. Not every patient has the means or skill set to grow medical marijuana, and they may not know someone else who does either. It's vital that those patients have a safe and legal way to buy their medicine.
Hawaii has had a medical marijuana program for well over a decade now, but has never allowed medical marijuana dispensaries on the islands. That has harmed a lot of patients, forcing them to go without medicine or purchase it from the black market if they can't cultivate it at home. That could change, finally, as early as 2016. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
Dispensary owners could find their own piece of paradise earlier than previously expected after a state Senate committee in Hawaii passed a bill allowing dispensaries to open, along with an amendment to a previous bill that would allow them to open next year.
The original bill said licenses would be issued starting in January 2017 with operations beginning in June of that year.
The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii has been advocating for issuance of issue licenses in 2016 rather than 2017, according to the group's website.
For the sake of patients, I hope that dispensaries become a reality in Hawaii in 2016 rather than 2017. They have gone long enough without safe access. I would really like to see Hawaii allow out of state patients to make purchases at dispensaries, much like what Nevada is going to do. Hawaii doesn't have as many medical marijuana patients as some other states (roughly 13,000), but Hawaii gets more tourists than most other states, and allowing out of state patients to make purchases would be huge for the Hawaii medical marijuana industry, and those out of state dollars could go to things like schools.