Dispensary owners could find their own piece of paradise earlier than previously expected after a state Senate committee in Hawaii passed a bill allowing dispensaries to open, along with an amendment to a previous bill that would allow them to open next year.
The original bill said licenses would be issued starting in January 2017 with operations beginning in June of that year.
The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii has been advocating for issuance of issue licenses in 2016 rather than 2017, according to the group’s website.
The state’s medical marijuana program was enacted in 2000, but patients thus far have had no options other than home cultivation, because dispensaries remained illegal. The legislation creates a legal structure for dispensaries to grow their own marijuana for sale, and also continues allowances for home cultivation.
The initiative will allow dispensaries to serve the roughly 13,000 patients who qualify for MMJ.
The move towards legalizing dispensaries has been ramping up for months, with the state auditor in December calling for the legislature to allow dispensaries, and a legislative task force echoed those recommendations in January.