The state Health Department gave the green light today for two more production facilities to begin growing medical marijuana, despite not being able to sell the drug to consumers yet.
Manoa Botanicals LLC got the OK to open a second production center on Oahu and Green Aloha Ltd. received approval for its first production facility on Kauai.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health authorized Aloha Green Holdings and Maui Grown Therapies to open second production facilities on Oahu and Maui, respectively. Pono Life Sciences also is operating a production center on Maui.
Production centers are required by law to grow pakalolo in secure indoor facilities; operate a computer tracking system connected to the state’s database; and report real-time inventory of marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products. The dispensaries also must receive approval to operate from the state’s Narcotics Enforcement Division.
At least three dispensaries have each harvested their first crops, but they haven’t been able to begin sales because the DOH must still certify laboratories to test the potency and purity of the drugs. Three laboratories are awaiting certification: PharmLabs Hawaii, Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii and Steep Hill Labs.
Hawaii legalized medical cannabis in 2000, but patients had no legal way to obtain the drug. There are more than 16,000 patients registered with the state. Act 241, passed in 2015, allowed the state to issue eight licenses for a total of 16 production centers that may grow up to 3,000 plants, and 16 dispensaries: three on Oahu, one on Kauai and two each on Maui and Hawaii island. By law, dispensaries were allowed to open as early as July 15, 2016.