Less than a week after opening, Hawaii’s very first state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries ran out of product and had to close temporarily.
Hawaii’s very first state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors for operation last Tuesday and days later was forced to temporarily close because of a backlog in supply. After 17 years since medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii, Maui Grown Therapies in Kahului became the state’s first dispensary to open its doors. The dispensary sold out of its first batch of certified marijuana flower on Saturday due to “high demand,” requiring the dispensary to close today and tomorrow until the next batch clears state lab certification.
The dispensary is claiming that the backlog of products has to do with mix-up with the Department of Health’s State Labs Division, which has yet to certify its cannabis products. So far, it’s only been able to sell flower.
“It’s unfortunate that an administrative hindrance of this magnitude prevents patients from getting the help they need,” said Christopher Cole, Maui Grown Therapies’ director of product management. “We had planned to open with a full range of derivative products such as concentrates, oils, capsules and topical products, but at the eleventh hour we discovered that the State Labs Division had failed to certify a lab to conduct testing of manufactured products.”
“We could serve thousands of patients with the amount of manufactured product we currently have available for final compliance testing,” Cole said “Even though we were approved by the Department of Health on May 24 to manufacture cannabis products, the restrictions placed on the state’s only licensed lab have prevented us from offering these products to our patients – and it is entirely unclear to us when this will change.”
Honolulu-based Aloha Green became the second Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary to open its doors. After being inspected last week by the Department of Health, it started selling medicinal cannabis on Wednesday. Just three days later, like Maui Grown Therapies it also sold out of its initial stock of cannabis and was forced to close for a few days to replenish its products.
“Three times the expected number of patients came to purchase medicine at Aloha Green, the only dispensary open in Honolulu,” the company said.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since 2000, but until now qualified patients had been forced to grow their own cannabis or obtain material from a caregiver.
“Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii, Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs, said last Tuesday. “This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. We’re so excited.”
Under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law, registered patients and their caregivers can purchase and possess up to four ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to 3 mature plants and 4 immature plants. The number of registered medical marijuana patients in Hawaii has grown significantly over the past year as the state moved closer to having licensed dispensaries. A report projects that Hawaii’s eight licensed dispensaries will pull in up to $38 million in sales in their first full year of operation.
“Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception,” said Hawaii Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “With legal guidance from Department of the Attorney General, the DOH team paved the way for this new industry in Hawai’I and has set a new standard for dispensary programs other states can emulate.”