Despite medical legalization, Hawaii’s Big Island lacks marijuana dispensaries

It’s been a year since Hawaii’s first legal sale of marijuana and nearly two decades since the state approved it for medical use, but no retail dispensaries have begun selling on the Big Island.

Six out of eight dispensaries have opened on all the major islands except Hawaii island, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday. It’s the island with the second-most medical marijuana patients, behind Oahu.

A dispensary was expected to open on the Big Island as early as December 2016, but that was pushed back by county permitting and other government requirements.

Another challenge dispensaries are facing is geography.

Two businesses have run into issues with adequate water supply for firefighting, reported Robert Perreira, battalion chief of the Hawaii Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau.

“They put it in locations that didn’t have the proper infrastructure,” he said. “One facility ended up having to install their own water source and fire pump, which took a long time.

“Then the other facility also had issues with water supply and also had operational issues they needed to get through.”

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Ethos, one of the dispensaries expecting to open on the Big Island, is getting inquiries from patients who have been waiting for dispensaries to arrive, said Zachary Taffany, Hawaiian Ethos’ chief operating officer.

“Both licensees on the Big Island still haven’t received permission to cultivate,” he said.

Richard Ha, a Big Island farmer and CEO of the other dispensary, Lau Ola, is also eager to get started after spending time on multiple permitting delays.

“It just kills us to delay,” Ha said. “But if we want to have a long-term successful operation, we got to do it just precisely.

“The longer it takes to get cash flow in, the scarier it is.”

– Associated Press

2 comments on “Despite medical legalization, Hawaii’s Big Island lacks marijuana dispensaries
  1. Brett Roper on

    Nothing about Hawaii’s deployment has been easy. The DOH has been wrong at most every turn related to timeline and predictions for permit holders becoming viable. The process of evaluation for the original process was also somewhat of a comedy of errors as one of the original five evaluators dropped out (the only one with experience) and the remaining four knew little if nothing about the industry, let alone how to evaluate best potential licensees as somewhat borne out over this past many years. I hope the eventually get their situation sorted out but so far it still seems abit clustered. I hope Richard and Zachary are able to get the big Island legitimately sourced product and wish him the best of fortune moving ahead!

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  2. Robert Kauai on

    The lack of operating medical marijuana dispensaries on Hawaii island has been an infrastructure and permitting problem that nobody saw causing such long delays. According to Ivy Lou Hibbitt of Certicann.com many of the patients on the Big Island “Have registered grow sites and or caregivers to supply them with their medical marijuana”. Because most people live in houses there they have the opportunity to grow their own plants; something patients on Oahu in particular have a very hard time doing. The Big Island has the second largest group of patients after Oahu.

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