The holder of a license for a medical marijuana dispensary operation will employ managers, workers who grow the weed, and others who produce the finished product.
"We have what is called a vertically integrated ownership system," attorney Stephen Pingree said.
Pingree's website advertises him as Hawaii's Marijuana Business Lawyer. He estimates each dispensary will employ up to 40 people. With up to 16 dispensaries opening statewide in July 2016, that could mean well over 600 jobs.
"There's a lot of companies that have expertise in growing marijuana, dispensaries, and making products, from the mainland that want to come over here and be involved with an applicant here in Hawaii," Pingree said.
Operations need at least 51 percent local ownership. Next year Hawaii's Department of Health will grant 8 licenses. Pingree estimates a licensee will spend $3 million to $5 million for startup, but that will be offset by a good return on investment in the first year or two.
"You're probably talking a gross income of somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million to $10 million," he said. "If they can run an efficient, essentially low overhead operation, then obviously the profit margin goes up."
So should the number of medical marijuana card holders. The total now is around 13,000 people.
"My projection is in the next year the number of medical card holders in Hawaii will probably close to double," Pingree said.
In 2017 the number of licenses and dispensaries could increase according to need. In 2018, mainland card holders visiting Hawaii will be able to buy medical marijuana from local dispensaries, creating more demand for quality cannabis.
"The economics really begin to expand and grow more profitable in the next two to three years," Pingree said.
Last year Pingree helped a company apply for a marijuana cultivation license in Nevada. His expertise is now being sought after as Hawaii begins to grow a new industry.