Hawaii residents who have been waiting 16 years for a legal place to buy medical marijuana will have to wait at least several more months.
But as of next week, their medicine can start growing.
The state Department of Health said Tuesday it’s ready to connect its seed-to-sale tracking software with the programs used by the eight companies that received licenses to grow and sell medial marijuana. It plans to do so Feb. 1.
It’s a milestone that will allow most of the licensees to start cultivating cannabis. State law says the plants must be tracked from seeds to the point of sale, so approval to start growing marijuana was delayed until now.
Brian Goldstein, chief executive officer of Manoa Botanicals, estimates that the cultivation process alone might take about five months.
“But that assumes everything goes perfectly,” Goldstein said Tuesday. His company has a nursery on the west side of Oahu and plans to open a dispensary near Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Slow Process To Dispensary Sales
Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but patients had to grow their own plants or find a caregiver who could help. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Legislature decided to legalize dispensaries.
Legislators exempted the Department of Health from the normally required rulemaking to expedite the process. The agency awarded eight licenses to companies last April and authorized them to open their doors as of last July. Some owners said publicly that they hoped to open by the end of 2016.
That hasn’t happened.
One reason has been the long process of getting the state’s seed-to-sale tracking software program up and running. The state awarded a contract in November to BioTrackTHC,