Wednesday April 6, 2016

By Abby Hutmacher

Hawaii is About to Hand Out 8 Medical Marijuana Licenses News

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana back in 2000 but has yet to establish licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Up until this point, medical users were expected to cultivate their own, but that’s all about to change thanks to a new dispensary bill that was signed into legislation last July by Hawaii Gov. David Ige.

House Bill 321 limits the number of marijuana licenses to only eight medical marijuana businesses total. Each business could run up to two dispensaries and two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants at each site for a total of only 16 dispensaries and 16 grow facilities throughout the islands. Initial licenses will be granted by April 15 with the promise of expansion in October, 2017 should there be a need.

Since news about these cannabis business became official, 66 different entrepreneurs have applied for marijuana licenses in the state. Among the most notable are actor and pot crusader and actor Woody Harrelson, video game designer Henk Rogers and television producer Dirk Fukushima. Despite the glaring differences between potential pot investors, one thing that is certain about all of them: they’re loaded to begin with -- but they have to be.

Gotta Pay to Play

According to Marijuana Policy Project, applicants must have at least $1 million in financial resources plus an additional $100,000 per dispensary. There is also a $5,000 fee to apply plus a $75,000 license fee should the license be approved (and a $50,000 annual renewal fee).

If that sounds like a lot of cash to open a business – you’re right. But that’s not to say that the venture won’t be fruitful. In fact, it’s well worth the big bucks to operate a dispensary in Hawaii, especially if Senate Bill 2581 passes legalized recreational marijuana use and nullifies federal cannabis prohibition across the state.

A 2012 study estimated that the state could save around $3 million per year in law enforcement costs and generate another $11.3 million in tax revenue if cannabis is legalized in Hawaii. This is especially promising considering Hawaii’s lop-sided debt to asset ratio which equates to a financial hole of around $12.4 billion.

Some have even gone so far as to suggest that cannabis legalization in Hawaii could essentially erase the state’s outstanding debt in a matter of years, but that could be difficult considering the restrictions the Hawaii cannabis industry now faces. For example, edibles continue to be illegal in the state (except for a few approved lozenges and tinctures) as is cross-branding between islands.

If SB2581 passes, recreational marijuana will be regulated in Hawaii with the following proposed conditions:

  • Use, purchase, transport and display of marijuana and relating paraphernalia will be permitted
  • The transfer of no more than one ounce cannabis between parties without remuneration will be permitted
  • The cultivation and transportation of no more than six marijuana plants (with half flowering at a time) will be permitted
  • Assisting or advising someone over the age of 21 in regards to marijuana will be permitted
  • Commercial hemp production would be permitted

Hawaii is known for its really dank weed. Commonly sought-after Hawaiian strains include Maui Waui, Blue Hawaiian and Kona Gold all of which are prized for their fantastic scents and powerful highs. If Hawaii were to legalize cannabis, the tourism market in the area would flourish thus helping dissolve the state’s high outstanding debt. Plus, who wouldn’t love to share a smoke with a loved one on the white beaches of Oahu, while taking in the culture and history of the island? Certainly not just the locals, that’s for sure.

Do you think marijuana reform would affect Hawaii? How so?

Photo Credit: Nathan Siemers (license)

Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a freelance writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace where marijuana enthusiasts can create and sell digital content to businesses in the cannabis industry. Follow Cannabis Content on Facebook and Twitter, or visit to learn more.

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