Health department delaying Hawaii’s medical cannabis market

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Most of Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensaries are ready to do business, but they’re awaiting action by the state’s Department of Health.

A year after Hawaii’s licensed dispensaries were allowed to open by law, at least three of the eight have product ready for market and six have been approved to cultivate marijuana, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

However, the dispensaries are waiting on the Department of Health to approve the state’s three testing labs – PharmLabs Hawaii, Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii and Steep Hill Labs – and MMJ inventory needs to be tested for purity and potency before it can be sold to patients.

The health department is still vetting the labs with plans to certify them this summer, according to the newspaper.

Under state law, Hawaii’s dispensaries were permitted to open in July 2016. But they were forced to put their businesses on hold while the state approved a seed-to-sale tracking system. BioTrackTHC won the tracking contract earlier this year.

The planned launch of Hawaii’s medical marijuana program wasn’t feasible, according to the health department’s Keith Ridley.

“The dates that were in the legislation were unrealistic,” he told the Associated Press. “I think we need to reset our time frames.”

Often, it takes up to two years or more for dispensaries to open after a law is passed.