After passing a final Health Department inspection this past Monday, Maui Grown Therapies became the first official dispensary to legally sell medical cannabis in Hawaii. The shop is one of eight dispensaries to have received proper licensing thus far, but all have had to wait for the government’s green light before they could start selling to patients.
The milestone is extremely significant for the Central Pacific island region. Although state lawmakers passed a law establishing legal dispensaries back in 2015, they have been unable to start selling medicinal pot until the testing labs were certified. Last week, Steep Hill Hawaii on Oahu became the first testing laboratory to receive approval, finally clearing the way for medical marijuana to be examined for potency and purity.
On Tuesday, after the testing facility successfully checked the first batch of medical marijuana, Maui Grown hosted a soft opening, notifying nearly 300 of their registered patients. Back in May, the dispensary gained permission from the department to manufacture cannabis products, effectively setting them one step ahead of the competition.
Although Maui Grown might have been the first to legally sell medical cannabis, it wasn’t the only dispensary eager to unlock their doors for Hawaiian patients. Others, like Oahu-based Aloha Green Holdings Inc., have also planned to service patients starting this week. Still, cannabis-based derivatives like tinctures and oils have not been given the seal of approval yet, leaving all medical shops with limited product.
Despite the fact that Hawaii approved medical cannabis in 2000, the state has taken a peculiar and cautious approach to implementation. Medical dispensaries were technically permitted to sell medical cannabis to the state's 18,000+ patients over one year ago, yet the lengthy approval process for testing labs has created frustrating delays. Meanwhile, health officials have tried to shed the plant’s social stigma by attempting to legally changing the nomenclature of "marijuana" to "cannabis."
There’s no denying that it’s been a lengthy wait for these Hawaiian dispensaries and patients. State lawmakers have moved slowly to construct these regulations, and although it may have taken more time than desired, the Aloha State has finally kicked off the medical cannabis luau.