Green Aloha looks to stimulate economy

LIHUE — With the approval of a medical marijuana dispensary on Kauai, officials with Green Aloha, Ltd., hope to add 40 jobs on the island.

“We’re hoping to help Kauai’s economy greatly by adding up to 40 new jobs when we’re fully operational,” said Casey Rothstein, operating manager, and Justin Britt, CEO.

On April 29, Britt and Rothstein found out their company, which is made up of business leaders, health care providers and agriculture experts, was approved by the Department of Health to be the only medical marijuana dispensary on Kauai.

“We were obviously excited, but quickly shifted our focus to getting our operations up and running,” Britt said.

The DOH awarded medical marijuana dispensary licenses to eight businesses across the state. The dispensaries can open as early as July 15.

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.

During the application process, Green Aloha, Ltd., started building its growing facilities and getting its administrative functions in order.

“We worked very hard during the application phase to solidify as many aspects of the operation as possible,” Britt said. “We felt that if we were lucky enough to win, that we wanted to be able to get up and running quickly.”

While the exact opening day for the dispensary is uncertain, officials hope to be in business by September.

“Much of the timing is determined by the growing times for the plants to reach maturity,” Rothstein said.

Green Aloha, Ltd., recently announced a partnership with United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 480. Officials say the agreement will ensure a safe environment for dispensary employees, as well as provide quality medicine for medical marijuana patients.

For Britt and Rothstein, quality medicine means providing a product free from harmful chemicals.

“We’ll be using organic growing practices, no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers,” Britt said. “We’ll also be cultivating in an enclosed environment with measures in place to ensure no mold or mildew grows on the medicine, a serious concern given the high humidity here on Kauai.”

Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process 16 years ago. A law passed in 2015 allowed the state to 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 as well as a thriving underground market.

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Jenna Carpenter, education reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or jcarpenter@thegardenisland.com.

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