Prominent Big Island farmer Richard Ha and former Maui Land & Pineapple CEO David Cole were among the eight medical marijuana dispensary license winners announced today, beating out dozens of others including actor Woody Harrelson and Hollywood producer Shep Gordon.
Here is the list of winners:
>> Aloha Green Holdings Inc.: Thomas Wong, Charles Lee
>> Manoa Botanicals LLC: Brian Goldstein, former CEO of Sunrise Capital
>> TCG Retro Market 1 LLC: Tan Yan Chen, Colbert Matsumoto, Richard Lim
>> Hawaiian Ethos LLC: Shelby Floyd
>> Lau Ola LLC: Richard Ha, Dylan Shropshire
>> Maui Wellness Group LLC: Gregory Park, David Cole
>> Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC: William Mitchell Jr., Robert Wong
>> Green Aloha Ltd.: Justin Britt, co-founder of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
TCG Retro Market’s Matsumoto is an insurance executive and recent addition to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board, while Lim is a former director of the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Matsumoto is also on the board of Oahu Publications Inc., parent company of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Dispensaries can open as soon as July 15.
A four-member panel reviewed nearly 66 applications to open dispensaries based on criteria including companies’ proof of financial stability, ability to comply with security requirements and being able to meet patient needs.
The panel wouldn’t discuss why they selected and rejected particular dispensaries, but the health department said it expects to release the scores of each applicant in the next two weeks.
“It’s a feeling of huge responsibility and potential for doing good, so it’s lots of emotions,” said Ha of Lau Ola. “We’re really happy to participate in this, but we got to do this right and we fully intend to do that.”
Ha said his company already has a lease on a property and building plans for facilities, but he expects that the dispensary won’t be up and running until after July.
Video game entrepreneur Henk Rogers of Blue Planet Healing was among dozens of applicants who weren’t selected for a license. Rogers, 61, is famous for designing the video game “Tetris” more than 20 years ago, and lives in Hawaii in an entirely solar-powered home.
“We look forward to applying for a medical marijuana dispensary license in the future should the Department of Health decide that the granting of additional licenses to operate a medical marijuana dispensary is in the best interest of the people of the state of Hawaii,” Blue Planet Healing said in a statement.
Dispensary applicants are required to pay a $75,000 licensing fee to the Health Department within seven days of receiving written notice of their selection.
Applicants were required to have $1 million cash, plus $100,000 for each dispensary location. The department must inspect facilities before they can open.
The law allows medical marijuana businesses to have two production centers and two retail dispensaries, for a total of 16 dispensaries statewide.
Six are allowed on Oahu, four on Hawaii island, four on Maui and two on Kauai.
Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process 16 years ago. Under a law passed in 2015, the state could grant eight licenses.
Industry experts say Hawaii’s medical marijuana businesses could be confronted with challenges unlike those in other states, such as navigating rules that ban inter-island transport and limit the number of growers.
They say the new Hawaii industry could also face problems such as the nation’s highest electricity costs for indoor growing and a thriving underground market.