Fifteen years ago, Hawaii became one of the first states in America to legalize medical marijuana. Despite this, Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries were illegal until now. For the last 15 years, the state’s 13,000 or so medical marijuana patients with qualifying medical conditions were left to grow their own cannabis or get it on the black market.
The Primary Reason None of Hawaii’s Dispensaries are Open
July 15th was the first day that dispensaries were legally allowed to open in the state but, according to the Department of Health, none of the 8 licensed dispensaries are fit to open. The main issue is that the state hasn’t received any applications from testing labs and without the certification from a lab, dispensary products are not legally considered fit for public consumption.
“On the dispensary front, they’re all doing their best to open their doors with as diverse a product line to serve all of the many needs of the patients and all the qualifying conditions that are out there. Until those products can be tested in a clinical capacity, no dispensary will be able to open their doors, no matter how perfect their product is,” says Chris Garth, who is the executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance.
Hawaii’s Marijuana Must Meet International Standards
In order for a lab to qualify to be an official testing lab, it must be certified to meet international standards. This certification has been the reason there hasn’t been any applications yet. Spectra Analytical Lab is working on an application right now and, if all goes as planned, the lab hopes to open by December. The lab would test product strength and check for other contaminants such as heavy metals and fungus. As soon as a lab is approved and open, dispensaries will be able to open as well.
The Rigorous Road of a Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Hawaii only announced which dispensaries were selected to be licensed in April. Among the many applicants who were not selected were actor Woody Harrelson and Henk Rogers (who is best known for his work on the classic video game Tetris). Since being approved, the licensed Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries have a lot of work to do before they are able to open. They have to set up an indoor growing compound, get all the necessary permits and obtain a certificate from narcotics enforcement. On top of this, labs need to be set up so that all products are approved. With all this in mind, dispensary owners are hoping to open by the end of the year.
Hawaii is one of 25 states that have legalized medical cannabis. The legalization of Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries seems to be part of a trend growing throughout the country. Many states are legalizing medical and recreational marijuana and cities are decriminalizing the plant with many more states, including California, Nevada and Arizona, voting on legalization issues in this November ballot. These states and cities have been profiting from marijuana tax revenue as well as funding saved by decriminalizing cannabis possession. Now, with a business infrastructure put in place for Hawaii’s legal marijuana industry, the state is able to profit from tax revenue, a reduction in crime and help for patients needing care.