Huge marijuana fight explodes in Hawaii

Recreational and medical marijuana

Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary is lashing out at the Department of Health after causing delays in supplying cannabis.

Hawaii’s first medical cannabis dispensary is already having to suspend sales just five days after it began selling marijuana, and the operators aren’t happy, lashing out at the government in a scathing statement. The reason for the suspension is because of lab delays, an unforeseen issue that the Hawaii State Labs Division ran into that resulted in the company selling out its first batch of certified weed on Saturday and having nothing anything to replace it with, and the dispensary slammed the government in a statement.

It’s an illustration of the numerous random obstacles states are running into when weed is legalized. Fortunately, it’s not looking to be a big problem for the dispensary yet, with sales expected to resume on Aug. 16. But for a dispensary hoping to allow general sales for walk-in customers on Monday, Aug. 14, it was an irritating development, and they are worried this is just the start of problems.

Maui Grown Therapies expressed irritation at the Department of Health in a statement, ripping the government for forcing them to only sell flowers for the time being and added that it was unclear when the situation would improve.

Hawaii has joined a number of other states in the U.S. in legalizing marijuana, and the push for legalization nationwide continues to gain steam even as it remains illegal at the federal level. Many states have even passed laws to make the recreational sale of marijuana legal.

The full statement from Maui Grown Therapies follows below.

Hawaiʻi’s first medical cannabis dispensary awaits action by the Hawaiʻi State Labs Division to help unclog a backlog of products so Maui patients can have access to quality assured medicinal cannabis products.

The company anticipated its most recent batch of flowers to clear lab certification by today, but that has not happened. Due to high demand, the company sold out its first batch of certified flowers on Saturday. To prevent patients from fruitless trips to its dispensary, the company will close on Monday and Tuesday, August 14 & 15, and reopen on Wednesday, August 16 at noon. Due to uncertain product availability, the company will extend its sales by appointment policy until further notice.

“It’s unfortunate that an administrative hindrance of this magnitude prevents patients from getting the help they need,” said Christopher Cole, Director of Product Management for Maui Grown Therapies. “We had planned to open with a full range of derivative products such as concentrates, oils, capsules and topical products, but at the eleventh hour we discovered that the State Labs Division had failed to certify a lab to conduct testing of manufactured products.”

Since opening last week Hawaiʻi dispensaries could sell only flowers— resulting in depleted flower stocks on Maui and disappointed patients. “We could serve thousands of patients with the amount of manufactured product we currently have available for final compliance testing,” said Cole. “Even though we were approved by the Department of Health on May 24th to manufacture cannabis products, the restrictions placed on the only licensed lab have prevented us from offering these products to our patients – and it is entirely unclear to us when this will change.”

Maui Grown Therapies co-founder and oncologist Gregory Park, MD is disappointed by the administrative bottleneck from a health perspective. “It’s ironic that our vehemently anti-smoking Department of Health is forcing cannabis patients to smoke to get relief,” he commented.

To better manage sales traffic to match product availability, Maui Grown Therapies will extend its “sales by appointment” policy until further notice. Patients may make a sales appointment through the company’s website. Dispensary operating hours have been adjusted to Mon-Sat, noon to 6 pm until further notice. As required by law, Maui Grown Therapies will be closed for Admissions Day on Friday, August 18.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia on the legalization situation of cannabis in Hawaii.

Cannabis in Hawaii is illegal for recreational use. Possession is permitted only for medical use and otherwise remains a criminal infraction.

A popular Hawaiian language term for cannabis is pakalolo (crazy tobacco), and the term appears in the Hawaiian newspaper Ka Nonanona as early as 1842. Hawaii is famous for its cannabis, with many strains developed locally

In 2015, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program of Hawaii was created to require those who qualify for medical marijuana to register before using marijuana for medical purposes.(health.hawaii.gov) To register, you must have a licensed physician certifying that the patient’s health condition can be benefited from medical marijuana. The patient will then receive a 329 Registration Card issued by the Department of Health.The goal of the Department of Health for issuing the 329 Registration Card is to issue it in a timely manner so that patients can continue or start to use medical marijuana legally.

In July 2015, The Act 241 was passed. It states that the Hawaii Department of Health will administer the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program by 2016 and dispensaries can begin to dispense medical and manufactured marijuana products as early as July 2016 assuming that the Department of Health grants approval to these dispensaries.

To address legal acquisition of cannabis, in 2016 Senate Bill 321 established a dispensary system, allowing eight dispensaries in the state, designated by island.