HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state notified applicants being considered for Hawaii's medical marijuana dispensary licenses Thursday night that fingerprints and background check consent forms for people in their organizations needed to be filed by the following Tuesday.
Because the fingerprint checks can't be done on the weekend, that means the applicants got just three days to meet the deadline.
Applicants are scrambling to get it done.
"We were certainly aware that we would have to do it. We didn't know that we would have to do it days before the license is granted," said applicant Bill Jarvis, of Pono Wellness.
Law mandates the state Department of Health announce who gets the eight licenses on April 15. But that deadline is now in jeopardy.
"If there is an issue with us not being able to receive all the fingerprints and background checks in the time that we had identified there may be a delay in announcing the licenses," said Dani Wong Tomiyasu, DOH deputy director of Health Services.
She said the company DOH is using, Fieldprint, didn't finalize the fingerprinting system for this project until hours before the notification was sent to dispensary applicants.
"It took us a while to really get that system tested and made sure that is was going to work properly," Tomiyasu said.
Everyone from an applicant's officers and directors to shareholders and dispensary staff must be fingerprinted and consent to background checks. Some of them are on the mainland or in Canada and Japan.
Christopher Garth, executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance, said the late notice "seems preposterous."
"Our estimation is that there are at least 300 people involved in all of the applications," he said. "You're looking at 3,000 fingerprints potentially to qualify them with the FBI in a matter of three days."
To make matters more difficult for applicants, Fieldprint is closed over the weekend.
"Certainly, people have stopped everything they're doing and are going about this process," Jarvis said. "We wish that it had come about in a little different way, but we also realize this is the nature of launching a new industry."
"We're doing the best we can to meet the requirements of the law, have a rigorous process and a fair process," Tomiyasu said.
The Health Department also faces a short turnaround time. It has to review all background checks before deciding on the eight applicants who'll be awarded dispensary licenses.