Three of the Hawaii medical marijuana businesses are opening on Oahu, while the Big Island and Maui will both have two of the businesses. One medical dispensary was selected to open on Kauai. Pictured: Cannabis plants grow in the backyard of a Hawaii medical marijuana cardholder in Honolulu in February 2016. (Marina Riker, Associated Press file)

Hawaii update: Delay likely for debut of medical marijuana dispensaries

Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process 16 years ago. Under a law passed in 2015, the state could grant eight licenses

LIHUE, Hawaii — State officials say they have yet to inspect the eight licensed medical marijuana businesses, making it unlikely that the Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries will open by July 15, the earliest date legislators had allowed them to begin selling their products.

Department of Health officials say they are uncertain when each licensee will open up shop, The Garden Island reported. “The Department of Health is unable to predict the progress by each licensee because there are a number of requirements that are outside of our department’s control,” spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

The eight businesses were selected in April to open the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. Three of the businesses are opening on Oahu, while the Big Island and Maui will both have two of the businesses. One medical dispensary was selected to open on Kauai.

Shane Peters, spokesman for Kauai’s sole dispensary Green Aloha Ltd., declined to comment, but he said he would be able to share information on its status sometime in July.

“Green Aloha Ltd. is doing their best to open in a manner that allows their operation to exceed expectation,” said Christopher Garth, executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance, a medical marijuana advocacy group. “Hopefully we can have someone opening their doors that have a robust menu and quality tested products by the end of year.”

The Department of Health requires the licensees to have enclosed indoor facilities, 24-hour security, and a certificate to possess and handle marijuana, among other conditions. The businesses are allowed to have two production centers and two retail dispensaries. The production center must be surrounded by fencing that is sufficient to deter intruders and prevent outsiders from viewing any marijuana.

Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process 16 years ago. Under a law passed in 2015, the state could grant eight licenses. There are over 14,000 registered medical marijuana cardholders in the state.

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Information from: The Garden Island