HI launches program allowing qualified visitors to buy medical cannabis

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Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries soon could enjoy a boost in sales after regulators announced cardholders from other states now may register to buy MMJ during their visits.

“We can now, for the first time, invite qualified out-of-state patients to apply up to 60 days prior to their visit to Hawaii and get their cards online prior to arrival,” Peter Whiticar, chief of the state Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Services Branch, said in a statement.

The move eventually could become a big deal since Hawaii attracts nearly 10 million visitors annually, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The state health department estimates that 5,000 out-of-state visitors will apply for a 60-day MMJ card in the first year of the reciprocity program.

Hawaii Educational Association for Therapeutic Healthcare, the state’s trade association for licensed dispensaries, said it was excited about the initiative, which it supported, and is preparing for an increase in demand for medical cannabis.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program currently is modest, with just 23,746 patients as of Dec. 31, 2018, but is growing. The number of patients rose 17% last year.

MMJ applications for out-of-state patients are available here.