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Last-minute rush for marijuana dispensary applications

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  • KAT WADE / DEC. 2014


With less than a week to go before the state Department of Health announces the names of Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary owners, applicants are rushing to meet last-minute requirements for background checks.

On Friday, the Hawaii Department of Health said it was having delays in the process of selecting medical marijuana dispensary owners because of an issue with background checks. The announcement came just days before the department is scheduled to announce the names of future dispensary owners on April 15.

The announcement could be delayed if background checks aren’t processed in time, officials said.

The Hawaii Dispensary Alliance, a trade organization representing applicants and patients, said the Department of Health could have faced lawsuits and had to redo the dispensary selection process if background checks weren’t required. “Our membership just wishes that this could have been announced a little bit earlier,” said Chris Garth, the organization’s executive director.

Bill Jarvis, who’s applying for a dispensary license and is president of telecommunications company Mobi PCS, said a potential delay in the selection process will only drag on the time it takes for patients to get their medicine. It also increases the costs for applicants who are waiting to potentially open dispensaries, he said.

“I know there are a lot of people complaining about it, and it probably wasn’t rolled out in the best way possible,” Jarvis said. “But the fact is, is this is a brand new industry and stuff like this is going to happen.”

Dispensaries can open as soon as July 15. Jarvis said that if he’s awarded license, he doesn’t expect to open until October or November of this year.

Other applicants worry this could be the first of many delays before they can sell medical marijuana.

Under state rules, the Health Department is required to inspect grow centers and dispensaries before they can open. Jeremy Nickel, who’s applying for a dispensary license and owns Hawaiian Holy Smokes, said he hopes to open as soon as August, but he worries there could be holdups with the Health Department’s inspection process.

“There’s no telling how long it’s going to take,” Nickel said.

Under a law passed in 2015, Hawaii will grant eight licenses for marijuana businesses, each of which can have two production centers and two dispensaries. Three licenses will be awarded for Oahu, two for Hawaii Island, two for Maui and one for Kauai. Actor and marijuana advocate Woody Harrelson and video game designer Henk Rogers are also among 59 Hawaii residents who applied for licenses in January.

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    • I’m not certain, but I’ve been standing in this same line for 4 months and it hasn’t moved at all–they just keep passing us this pipe and tell us to smoke-it and wait our turn… (Is there another line for “Shrooms” and Ayahuasca?)

    • Well, it would help to be able to spell “license” correctly. Probably one question mark is sufficient unless one was for spelling and one for process. 🙂

  • What I don’t understand is why is there so much demand for a medical marijuana license. Are they going to gouge customers or do they plan to see to anybody?

    • I can only guess that there will be many more people who suddenly get prescriptions requiring medical marijuana. The State should be checking these new users and their doctors. Then, like you say, the dispensaries are probably going to charge a lot for the stuff.

      • Anyone who really wants to smoke weed is already doing so Sailfish. They want the license because they know it will eventually go completely legal and expand their customer base. Like Oregon, Washington and Colorado – price will have to be controlled or people will continue to buy it where they get it now, black market.

        • I do not understand why people would have to buy it. I grows like a weed. In any backyard you could grow enough to get the whole neighborhood stoned permanently.

    • Probably the more accurate assessment is that there are certain politically favored applicants and the Powers That Be are manipulating the process to make sure those applicants have an easy path to licensure and all others are snagged in the bureaucratic bramble bush.

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