Medical marijuana in Hawaii: An update on dispensaries, testing labs and customers

March 7 marks 6 months since the first medical cannabis dispensary opened in the state.

It's been a long, drawn out process that started more than 3 years ago.

That's when the state Department of health took over the medical cannabis program.

It wasn't until two years after that, that the state narrowed down the number of businesses that wanted in on the medical marijuana industry... allowing 8 dispensaries to begin growing and cultivating their products.

But even after all of that... none of the dispensaries could start selling cannabis because there were no labs that could test their products.

It took months before the first lab was certified.

Here's a look at where we are now.

You can see where the dispensaries are... across the state.

There's 1 on Kauai.

3 on Oahu.

There are 2 other dispensaries on Maui.

And 2 on the Big Island.

While the dispensaries do serve every county....

Only half of the 8 that were approved are actually up and running.

Cure Oahu on Kapahulu is having its blessing ceremony next week and is expected to open sometime after that.

So right now, Maui county and Oahu are the only two areas where patients can actually get access to their medicine.

And that's exactly where the testing labs are located.

One is in Moiliili and the other in Kahului.

There are no labs certified by the state yet... on Kauai or the Big Island.

Taking a closer look at who's being impacted by these delays...

According to the most recent count by the Department of health... there are about 7-thousand Hawaii residents on the Big Island and Kauai combined... who can't get their medicine.

While the rest of the patients on Oahu and Maui county... about 10-thousand of them... have access to at least one dispensary in their county.

Now, we should note that there are far more patients who aren't accounted for in these numbers.

In fact, the department of health says there's about 20-thousand patients who have medical cannabis cards... and every week they process about 15-hundred new patient applications.

The state health department told us that since dispensaries started selling products on August 8th, the industry has brought in more than 2-point-8 *MILLION dollars.

That's in just six months.

Still, there are plenty of patients who aren't getting access to medical marijuana, so that number is likely to increase when dispensaries open on Kauai and the Big Island.

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