Data from Hawaii’s state department reveals that the state’s medical marijuana program continued its steady growth in numbers through 2017, as dispensaries began selling to patients.
Hawaii’s medical marijuana program once again grew in numbers over the past year, as it expanded its list of qualifying conditions and dispensaries started selling cannabis products to patients.
According to a recent report from Marijuana Business Daily, Hawaii’s medical marijuana patient count grew by 33 percent in 2017. As of the end of February, there were more than 20,500 patients registered with the program and Hawaii’s state department has said that they process about 15-hundred new patient applications every week.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since 2000, but licensed dispensary sales only started in August 2017. For the first 17 years of the program, medical marijuana was only available to qualifying patients through personal home grows or caregiver programs.
While the opening of dispensaries eight months ago was expected to trigger a more pronounced bump in new patients, data reveals that growth remained relatively steady throughout the year, averaging a 2 percent bump month-over-month similar to years prior. May 2017 was the program’s strongest month, climbing 4.2 percent.
Despite the previous limited accessibility to cannabis, Hawaii’s medical marijuana program had already been highly engaged by patients before state-licensed dispensaries opened their doors. The program’s patient count still exceeded 15,000 at the end of 2016, even when accessibility was limited to caregiver and home-grow avenues.
The lack of a more significant growth in patient count may be related to the fact that registered patients have grown accustomed to obtaining marijuana through personal grows and caregivers. Additionally, only five dispensaries — three on Oahu and two on Maui — throughout the islands of Hawaii are up and running. The state will eventually approve eight, and a boom in patients may come once dispensaries open on Kauai and the Big Island.
The Hawaii Dispensary Alliance had predicted that medical marijuana dispensaries would sell up to $38 million in marijuana products in their first year of business. In the first six months, however, the industry has reportedly brought in $2.8 million in sales.
Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program
In December, Hawaii expanded its list of qualifying conditions to include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The number of conditions and symptoms that can qualify a patient for medical marijuana is now at 13.
These conditions and symptoms include:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Seizures (including Epilepsy)
- Severe and Chronic Pain
- Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms (including Multiple Sclerosis)
- Severe Nausea
Medical Cannabis in the U.S.
Hawaii is one of 29 states to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. You can learn more about medical marijuana laws in the U.S. through our education page, or keep up with the latest updates in the cannabis industry by visiting our news page.