After 17 Years, Hawaii’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Finally Opens

It’s been 17 years since Hawaii first legalized medical marijuana, and now the Aloha State’s first dispensary is open for business.

Maui Grown Therapies, located in Kahului, began dispensing medical cannabis to patients on Tuesday, one day after receiving approval to open following their final onsite retail inspection by the Department of Health.

“Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii,” said Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs for the dispensary. “This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. We’re so excited.”

The dispensary is easing into business, and is open only by appointment this week to pre-registered patients.  Regular operating hours begin August 14.

Maui Grown Therapies currently only offers a selection of dried cannabis flower. The company says they plan to offer a selection of products such as oils, lotions, concentrates and tinctures, but the Department of Health has not yet certified a lab to test manufactured cannabis products.

Hawaii first authorized the medical use of marijuana in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the state legislature passed a law allowing state-regulated marijuana sales through dispensaries.

“It’s been a long, winding road to get here and we’re extremely excited,” said Maui Grown Therapies co-founder Gregory Park, MD. “Getting to this day required hard work, cooperation and patience, but it’s worth it to be able to bring this alternative therapy to our Maui community.”

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” Department of Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said in a statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception. With legal guidance from Department of the Attorney General, the DOH team paved the way for this new industry in Hawai‘i and has set a new standard for dispensary programs other states can emulate.”

In Hawaii, registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical marijuana during a 15 consecutive day period, up to a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period.

All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It remains illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks.

When transporting medical marijuana home after purchasing it from a dispensary, it must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

Eight dispensaries licences have been authorized in Hawaii, and are at different stages of the approval process.  Each dispensary may open up to two retail locations and one cultivation site.

Assuming the state’s dispensaries become fully operational in time, the current system of home cultivation by caregivers is expected to be phased out by the end of 2018.

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