HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During a hearing at the state Capitol Wednesday, Department of Health officials weren't able to provide lawmakers with a clear timeline for the certification of medical marijuana testing labs.
"So when do you anticipate that another lab is going to be certified and a lab that can certify product -- manufactured product -- is gonna be certified?" Sen. Rosalyn Baker of Maui asked a health official.
"That's a crystal ball question. I can't predict when the labs are going to submit those data packages to me. They tell me soon. I can't predict when they will do that," Lab Director Christian Whelen responded.
Whelen said the department is waiting for the labs to turn in data that shows they are properly equipped to test marijuana for substances like pesticides.
"We're doing the best we can to help them try to move their status forward," Whelen said.
Currently, labs are only certified to test flower buds, and dispensaries can't sell manufactured products like oils, tinctures, and lotions, which some patients prefer over smoking the cannabis.
The labs also requested Wednesday in-person meetings with the health department to speed up the certification process.
Health officials say there are now more than 18,000 patients in the medical cannabis registry.