HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Department of Health has released a list of 66 applicants for the state's eight medical marijuana dispensaries, and it includes local business leaders, a retired medical center executive, and a well-known movie star.
Actor, part-time Maui resident and outspoken marijuana advocate Woody Harrelson is listed as an applicant for one of the three licenses for Oahu. Henk Rogers, co-creator of the video game Tetris, is another applicant. So is Oahu businessman Mike Irish, who owns three companies, including Halm's Enterprises, known for its jars of kim chee.
Big Island farmer Richard Ha is also on the list, along with a company that includes Native Hawaiian activist Kamaki Kanahele.
Retired St. Francis Healthcare executive Gene Tiwanak applied after his wife died from brain cancer last year.
"It's the law. No sense fighting it at this point, it's a done deal," he said. "So let's do our best to get moving and get the products, the best products, out there, to serve those that need it."
But first Tiwanak and the other 65 applicants have to wait for the health department to announce the eight licensees by April 15. The decision process may be controversial because the department isn't saying who will make that decision until it is done. Officials won't even say how many people will be on the selection panel.
"All other information on dispensary applications is confidential as we move into the evaluation and selection process," said Keith Ridley, chief of the department's Office of Health Care Assurance. In an earlier interview when the application process began, he said, "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,"
Each licensee will be allowed to run up to two production centers and two dispensaries. If Tiwanak is selected, he expects he'll have to run a smart business to make money.
"You don't expect grandma to be putting on weed, you know what I mean?" he said. "So there have to be other products in line, ointments and the like, that can be used by the patients.
"It's a law. then let's take the proper steps to insure that we're doing it the right way."