Hawaii Readies For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medicinal cannabis - Hawaii
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Hawaii’s Department of Health has made interim administrative rules for the state’s medical cannabis dispensary program available.

The state already has a medical cannabis program, but no dispensaries. This means patients must grow their own plants and prepare their own medications;  or have a registered caregiver do so for them. Patients/caregivers must not have more than 7 plants and jointly possess no more than 4oz of usable marijuana jointly.

“The rules have also been drafted to ensure patient safety, product safety and public safety, and prevent marketing to our keiki*,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “This product is intended to be used for registered patients who need it for medical purposes and the rules are written specifically to accomplish that goal.”

The document (PDF) covers the selection criteria and process for awarding dispensary licenses; security issues, product standards and dispensary operations procedures.

A total of eight licenses will be awarded initially; with each dispensary licensee allowed to operate up to two production facilities and two retail dispensing locations. Retail locations will not be permitted to be at the same location as a production center. Production centers will need to be in an indoor enclosed facility.

More licenses may be issued after October, 2017 based on patient need; but no more than one license per 500 qualifying patients residing in any single county will be issued.

There will be extensive background checks during the assessment process. Any applicants with a recorded conviction relating to use, possession or distribution of drugs; violence, crimes involving firearms, commercial fraud or any history the department considers would pose a risk to the public will be disqualified.

Application fees are rather pricey – $5,000 and non-refundable – and the assessment will be based on a points system, with the highest scoring applicants or groups granted the licenses.

The application period for the initial licenses commences on January 11 and closes on January 29, 2016; with licensees announced in April next year. Successful applicants will be able to start dispensing medical cannabis from July 16, 2016.

* The word keiki is Hawaiian for “baby” or “child”.