High cost of doing business in Hawaii expected to drive up pot prices

High cost of doing business in Hawaii expected to drive up pot prices

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jari Sugano's daughter, MJ, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy that can trigger thousands of seizures each day.

Medical marijuana helps the 7-year-old reduce her epileptic seizures. Her parents grow the pot plants and mix the oils.

"She takes a daily dose. Usually it's only one time a day. On the weekends she'll get two doses a day," mother Jari Sugano said.

She said her daughter uses four to eight ounces a month. If the Suganos could buy marijuana from dispensaries on the mainland, it would cost them $450 for a 30-day supply.

"We would want to be at the higher level in terms of dosage, but we just can't afford it. So we give her what we can," Sugano said.

The Suganos hope Hawaii's prescription pot will be more affordable, but they're not optimistic. And neither are prospective dispensaries.

Bill Jarvis heads Pono Wellness, which has applied for a Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary license, and said mainland dispensaries charge about $10 to $20 per gram of weed. He isn't ready to publicize his price plan, but if he gets a license he's planning to charge on a sliding scale.

"We're going to gauge our pricing based on a patient's ability to pay," Jarvis said. "A big part of is as a service to patients. We shouldn't be denying patients medicine who couldn't otherwise get it."

Sill, Hawaii dispensaries will have to cover higher overhead costs in the islands, from pricey real estate space to higher power costs. The federal government also takes 70 cents for every dollar earned from medical cannabis.

"I think a lot of people believe that these are absolute gold mines. They really aren't when you put pencil to paper," Jarvis said.

Dispensaries will also compete against a black market that operates with no regulations.

The Suganos would like to pay less than $350 a month for MJ's medical marijuana.

"Really our priority is access, ensuring that we have access to a lab-tested material. And we know we're going to have to balance that with the cost," Sugano said.

Her mother added that MJ now weighs about 50 pounds. As she grows, she'll need higher dosages that cost more.

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