LIHUE — Green Aloha, Ltd. has been chosen to be the sole medical marijuana dispensary on Kauai, according to a release from the Hawaii Department of Health.
Earlier this month, the company, a Kauai-based group of business leaders, health care providers and agriculture experts, announced an agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 480, which it said will ensure a safe environment for dispensary employees, as well as provide medicine for marijuana patients.
“This is a new industry in Hawaii, and anybody who is going into it needs help from industry experts,” Casey Rothstein, operating manager of Green Aloha, Ltd. told The Garden Island.
On Friday, DOH selected eight businesses to open medical marijuana dispensaries as soon as July 15.
A four-member panel reviewed nearly 66 applications. Criteria included companies’ proof of financial stability, ability to comply with security requirements and being able to meet patient needs.
Aloha Green Holdings Inc., Manoa Botanicals and TCG Retro Market 1 were selected to open dispensaries on Oahu. Hawaiian Ethos and Lau Ola were chosen for the Big Island, while Maui Wellness Group and Pono Life Sciences Maui were selected on Maui.
“Upon the completion of the selection process and the awarding of licenses, the Department of Health will begin working with the selected licensees to ensure the safety of their products, and the safety of patients and the public,” said State Health Director Virginia Pressler. “We look forward to improving access to marijuana for registered patients who have medical needs, and increasing educational opportunities for healthcare professionals.”
The panel wouldn’t discuss Friday why it selected and rejected particular dispensaries, but the health department said it expects to release the scores of each applicant in the next two weeks.
Dispensary applicants are required to pay a $75,000 licensing fee to the Department of Health within seven days of receiving written notice of their selection.
Applicants were required to have $1 million cash, plus $100,000 for each dispensary location. DOH, which awarded the licenses, must inspect facilities before they can open.
The law allows medical marijuana businesses to have two production centers and two retail dispensaries, for a total of 16 dispensaries statewide.
Six are allowed on Oahu, four on Hawaii Island, four on Maui and one on Kauai.
Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process 16 years ago. Under a law passed in 2015, the state could grant eight licenses.
Industry experts say Hawaii’s medical marijuana businesses could be confronted with challenges unlike those in other states, such as navigating rules that ban inter-island transport and limit the number of growers.
They say the new Hawaii industry could also face problems such as the nation’s highest electricity costs for indoor growing and a thriving underground market.
Actor Woody Harrelson and video game entrepreneur Henk Rogers were among dozens of applicants who weren’t selected for a license.
Associated Press contributed to this article