In this Feb. 17, 2016, photo, plants grow at the home of Jeremy Nickle, owner of Hawaiian Holy Smokes, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Three dispensaries have now been authorized to cultivate marijuana. (Marina Riker, Associated Press file)

Third Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary ready to grow

Department of Health approvals allow the dispensary to acquire and grow marijuana seeds, clones and plants

HONOLULU — Hawaii has given the green light to a third dispensary to begin acquiring and growing marijuana.

Oahu-based Manoa Botanicals got the state Department of Health’s permission on Thursday. Aloha Green Holdings Inc. of Oahu and Maui Grown Therapies are the only other businesses that have received state approval for cultivation out of the state’s eight licensed dispensaries.

The approvals allow the dispensaries to acquire and grow marijuana seeds, clones and plants. The dispensaries may provide marijuana and marijuana products to patients registered with the department.

The state Legislature legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in 2015. But until last month the state lacked a federally required software system to track the product from seed to sale.

Before retail sales can begin, the health department must still test the marijuana products and connect patient registries to the tracking system.

Health officials said they are reviewing two applications from testing laboratories seeking to open on Maui and Oahu.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii in 2000, but the state didn’t legalize dispensaries until 15 years later.

The eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries include three businesses on Oahu, one on Kauai and two each on Maui and the Big Island. Each licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites. Up to 3,000 marijuana plants can be grown in the production centers.

There were more than 15,000 medical marijuana patients registered with the state at the end of last year, with more than 40 percent of them on the Big Island.