At first it seemed like Hawaii’s medical marijuana program would only be good for rich people. When it was first signed into law two years ago, the state only allowed for a total of eight dispensaries, all of which had to put up a cool $1 million to qualify for a license, basically ensuring that the state’s cannabis profited only venture capitalists and successful business owners.
But now it seems that equality has won out. It turns out that the Aloha State’s MMJ program isn’t good for anyone.
Though dispensaries were legally allowed to open last July, various administrative holdups have stopped licensed dispensaries from actually being able to sell cannabis products. Dispensaries that did open have been hemorrhaging cash, having to pay rent and other operating fees despite not having any source of income. This pickle has cost the businesses up to $100,000 a month, according to the Associated Press.
The most recent setback for Hawaii’s would-be medical cannabis entrepreneurs is the state’s requirement of safety testing for all cannabis products to be put on the market, which becomes a big problem when you take into account that the state has yet to certify a single lab to do any safety testing. Dispensaries hope to clear the hurdle soon, but it’s only the latest in a series of hindrances put on the state’s medical marijuana industry.
Hawaii law has allowed for medical cannabis since 2000, but up until 2015 the only legal way to get medicated was to grow your own. Two years ago, dispensaries were made legal, with provisions for them to open their doors in 2016. Unfortunately, the state government didn’t exactly make things easy for MMJ businesses and patients after that.
First there was that bullshit about having to be a millionaire to open a dispensary. Then there was a state Supreme Court ruling that prevented lawyers from assisting legal marijuana businesses. Then, when the dispensaries went live in 2016, they couldn’t sell anything because the state hadn’t set-up the seed-to-sale tracking software that it mandated be implemented. And then there was this whole lab certification thing. It almost makes you think the state of Hawaii’s heart isn’t in this thing.
“The dates that were in the legislation were unrealistic,” Keith Ridley of the Department of Health told the AP. “I think we need to reset our timeframes.”
“People are hoping for dispensaries to open, but they’re just waiting and waiting,” said Jari Sugano, the mother of an 8 year-old MMJ patient who suffers from severe epilepsy. “In the end, the delays are going to come back on the patient to pay back.”
Photo via Flickr user Daniel Ramirez