HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than three months after the state awarded its first medical marijuana dispensary licenses, advocates are forecasting huge growth for the industry.
A new report by the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance predicts that revenues generated by the state's eight medical marijuana licensees will top $30 million in the first year.
But the group believes that business could more than double in 2018.
"We're looking at a robust industry about to develop. We're looking at somewhere around $30 million in the next year and as much as $80 million at a conservative estimate by 2018," said Christopher Garth, executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance.
"There is significant economic boom that could come about for the dispensaries ... but of course the tax dollars are another component."
The report's author said the forecast is conservative because it relies on national statistics that medical marijuana patients represent about 2 percent of the population.
But already, the number of medical marijuana patients on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island have exceeded 2 percent of their counties' population, the report said.
State Senator Sam Slom was among of the deciding votes in the Senate 15 years ago, when Hawaii legalized medical marijuana.
Until this year when the state awarded its first dispensary licenses, Slom said the state has done little to make medical marijuana accessible to patients who need it most.
"We should have done it a long time ago and we should have done it with the patients in mind rather than the revenue," he said.
Industry advocates say they expect the first medical pot dispensaries to be operating by the end of this year.