Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but until 2015, patients were obliged to grow their own or buy on the black market, as no dispensary system was established. That changed in 2017, when a testing laboratory was licensed and a dispensary was authorized to begin sales. Maui Grown Therapies was the first dispensary authorized to sell medical cannabis starting in August of that year. It has now been more than a year of successful trading since the doors first opened.

Teri Freitas Gorman, the firm’s director of community relations and patient affairs, had this to say: “Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii. This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary.”

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) authorized the dispensary to begin sales after it passed an onsite inspection and a regimen of laboratory testing. “This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler in a prepared statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception. With legal guidance from Department of the Attorney General, the DOH team paved the way for this new industry in Hawaii and has set a new standard for dispensary programs other states can emulate.”

Since then, several other dispensaries have opened. Aloha Green Holdings, Manoa Botanicals, and TCG Retro Market 1 were licensed on Oahu. Another on Maui is Pono Life Sciences, and one on Kauai is Green Aloha.

According to the DOH:

Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.

Medical marijuana was available in the state in 1842, when it was advertised in a newspaper. Although prohibition brought concerted efforts to eradicate marijuana in Hawaii, it nevertheless became known as a source of several strains. In 1979, for example, Rolling Stone magazine listed marijuana as Hawaii’s most lucrative crop, ahead of cane sugar and pineapple. Another indication of how widespread cultivation has been is that for 17 years, there was insufficient pressure from medical patients to force the legislature to implement a system that would bypass the black market or home grows. Now that dispensaries are open, lawmakers are considering HB 2729, which would allow dispensaries to sell edibles, including gum, drinks, and sweets. Adult use bills are also being reviewed.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who represents the state’s second district, has favored federal decriminalization, has decried how federal marijuana laws have “turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars.” Now that medical patients can buy lab-tested product at dispensaries, Hawaii may soon legalize adult use under a similar set of regulations, giving tourists another reason to visit.

What do you think? Will Hawaii legalize adult use in 2019? Leave a comment below.

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