It’s official: Hawaii legalizes dispensaries

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Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed a new law that paves the way for up to 16 dispensaries across the islands, bringing marijuana business opportunities to a state that legalized medical cannabis 15 years ago.

Under the measure, Hawaii will license eight companies to cultivate and sell marijuana. Each business can open up to two dispensaries.

The law sets up an application period from Jan. 12 to 29 for entrepreneurs who have at least $1 million in assets and have been Hawaii residents for at least five years.

Startup costs for those dispensaries will likely range well into the seven figures, with some estimating that it will cost between $3 million and $5 million to found a dispensary on one of Hawaii’s islands. Initial licensing fees alone will run $75,000, and companies will have to fork over $50,000 annually to renew their permits.

The costs could be worth it: Dispensaries will have access to the state’s 13,000 registered patients. Many more could sign up for cards once dispensaries start opening, and in 2018 the state will allow dispensaries to sell to visitors that have MMJ cards from other states – further boosting the market.

Ige signed the bill at the last possible minute: It would have become law after Tuesday even without his signature, although he could have vetoed the measure.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000 but only allowed home growing until now.