Selection process for medical marijuana dispensaries set to star - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Selection process for medical marijuana dispensaries set to start

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Entrepreneurs will be able to submit their applications for one of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses starting on Tuesday, but health officials aren't releasing many details about the people involved in the selection process.

Applicants will be scored on a set of criteria, including financial stability and their ability to operate a business. The state health director will award the licenses based on recommendations from a selection panel made up of a handful of people.

"There will be a variety of panel members. We're looking at identifying individuals who will bring specific expertise with them to be part of that panel," said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance.

Ridley said the director will choose the panel from a list created by his office. Officials aren't planning to release the names of members now, but said they would likely make the names public after the dispensary licenses are given out.

Applications for a dispensary license must be submitted by January 29. The licensees will be announced in April.

"We do know that transparency is very important and we want it to be as transparent as possible, but we also know that there is a concern about objectivity if panel members' names were to be released prematurely," Ridley said.

Each licensee will be able to run up to two production centers and two retail dispensing locations. Mike Irish, who owns three companies, including Halm's Enterprises, plans to apply. He is worried that some of the requirements are costly and may lead to high prices for patients.

"Like keeping it totally enclosed, keeping it lit, the lighting and electricity that you would need, trying to make it hydroponic so it had to have a concrete base," said Irish.

Irish said he decided to apply because his mother died of cancer and he wishes she had access to medical marijuana. He doesn't believe the business will be a huge money-making venture.

"With these restrictions and so forth and the people that we are able to help, I don't see what everybody else sees. I see a lot of expense and I do see loss," said Irish. "It's just a way of seeing how can we give back."

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