Even though Hawaii won’t begin accepting medical cannabis business applications until January, some entrepreneurs are already prepping for what’s expected to be a big battle for permits.
In mid-July, right after Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a new bill into law that allows for eight companies to start dispensaries, food industry mogul Michael Irish registered a new limited liability company and began planning his entrance into the marijuana trade, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
The eight eventual winners will all be allowed to open two dispensaries apiece, so competition will almost certainly be fierce, as it typically is in new markets with a limited number of licenses.
But one thing Hawaii license winners won’t have to worry about is a customer base – there are already nearly 14,000 registered MMJ patients in the state, all of whom still are required to grow their own cannabis or get it from a caregiver. That’s far more than the number of registered patients in Illinois or Minnesota, for example, where the industry is just getting started.
The dispensaries will also eventually be allowed to sell to out-of-state patients, a policy known as “reciprocity,” in a few years. This could help boost foot traffic at dispensaries noticeably given that Hawaii is a major tourist destination.