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Hawaii’s first legal marijuana sale takes place on Maui

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Fred Rickert, 74, of Lahaina, stands today outside Maui Grown Therapies where he was the first customer to buy medical marijuana from the dispensary.

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Mark Grant, of Kula, was one of the first customers in line at Maui Grown Therapies today.

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Maui Grown Therapies

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Hawaii history was made today with the first legal sale of marijuana, nearly two decades after the state approved the use of pot for medical purposes.

Fred Rickert was the first customer at Maui Grown Therapies when he bought pot at around noon.

Maui Grown is the first of eight dispensary licensees to begin selling cannabis in the islands. The company passed a final Health Department inspection Monday, beating at least one other dispensary, Aloha Green Holdings Inc. on Oahu, to be the first to open. Aloha Green said Monday it may hold a news conference today, but postponed the news conference until Wednesday.

The first sale of legal marijuana is a significant milestone for the industry that has struggled to get off the ground since the law establishing dispensaries was passed in 2015. The law stated that dispensaries could open in July 2016, but the opening was delayed for more than a year, frustrating medical cannabis patients and caregivers.

“It’s been a long, winding road to get here and we’re extremely excited,” said Dr. Gregory Park, who co-founded Maui Grown Therapies at the Maui Lani Village Center at 44 Paa St. in Kahului. “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.”

At least three dispensaries have had marijuana ready to sell but couldn’t open until the state certified an independent laboratory to test the potency and purity of the drug to ensure patient safety. The Department of Health certified last week the state’s first pakalolo testing lab, Steep Hill Hawaii on Oahu.

Following the lab certification, Maui Grown Therapies notified its nearly 300 registered patients that cannabis samples were on the way to Honolulu for mandatory testing. The dispensary had been registering patients since July, and had a “soft opening” today with sales by appointment only for registered patients before opening to the general public on Monday.

The dispensary shelved a plan to open today with derivatives such as oils, lotions and tinctures, in addition to cannabis, because the lab is not certified to test manufactured products.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii in 2000, but patients have had no legal way to obtain the drug. As of July 31 there were 18,004 registered patients, up 413 from the month before.

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