HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state announced Friday the eight recipients of Hawaii's first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.
The law allows retail centers to start selling medical marijuana as early as July 15, but several of the selected applicants told Hawaii News Now that they're planning to open their dispensaries near the end of this year.
"If they don't have an enclosed indoor facility, if they don't have a tracking system, if they don't have security systems in place, all in accordance with the law, they will not be given a final approval," said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH's Office of Health Care Assurance.
Manoa Botanicals won one of the three licenses for Oahu. The company plans to build a production facility on remote agricultural land in Kunia and open two retail centers -- one in town and the other in the Aiea area.
"That's really what it's all about for us, serving the patients and helping educate the community about the therapeutic benefits of this amazing plant," said CEO Brian Goldstein. "We have estimated pricing based on our estimated cost of goods sold, but we're going to have to wait to see what our actual costs come in at before we actually set pricing."
The state also selected Lau Ola which is owned by former Big Island banana farmer Richard Ha.
"A lot of this is uncharted waters. A brand new crop, different method of operation," he said. "It's a steep learning curve, but in the final analysis, it's still agriculture."
The medicinal marijuana must be tested in a state-approved lab. Ridley said the DOH had received inquiries, but no applications for lab certification yet.
Despite the challenges ahead, advocates are thrilled for patients.
"The dispensaries are going to offer a sophisticated array of products that will be lab tested. They'll be able to know exactly what they're getting, different strains for different conditions and that sort of thing," said Pamela Lichty, president of The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.
The eight were selected from a list of 66 applicants, who included local business leaders, a retired medical center executive and Hollywood actor (and part-time Maui resident) Woody Harrelson. Harrelson's Simple Organic Living wasn't selected for a license.
A four-member panel was selected to review the applications and determine who should get the licenses. The panel was originally slated to decide by April 15 who would be awarded dispensary licenses
Lawmakers say additional licenses could be issues in subsequent years.
Here are the eight selected for the licenses:
- Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.
- Manoa Botanicals
- Cure Oahu
- Hawaiian Ethos
- Lau Ola
- Maui Wellness Group
- Pono Life Sciences Maui
- Green Aloha