Marijuana may add $4.5M to Kauai economy

The island may see millions of dollars of revenue from medical marijuana sales during the first year of operation, according to a recent forecast from an advocacy group.

A Hawaii Dispensary Alliance report said Kauai may see between $1.5 million to $4.5 million of revenue generated from Green Aloha Limited, its sole medical marijuana dispensary, based upon the island’s 1,689 registered medical marijuana patients, during the company’s first 12 months of operation.

“Looking at other states who have legalized marijuana, it appears the industry has the potential to help the island’s economy,” said Justin Britt, Green Aloha Limited CEO. “However, we believe the most significant benefit will come from being able to provide badly needed medicine to the patients of Kauai.”

With 14,074 patients statewide, the 12-month forecast for the medical marijuana dispensary system may see $12 million to $38 million annually.

“Hawaii has the momentum right now to develop, grow and evolve,” said Garrett Halydierm, Hawaii Dispensary Alliance CEO.

HDA projects further growth in 2018 as the patient population on Kauai is expected to grow to 3,322 patients.

This would create a countywide revenue of $3.9 million to $11.9 million and a target of $80 million for the state.

“It’s really hard to pin down exact numbers,” said Chris Garth, HDA executive director. “There are a lot of variables to consider. This industry only three years young. Even with more participation, these numbers tend to drop and tend to change more dramatically.”

Britt said it’s difficult to speculate on the validity of the projected numbers from the HDA.

“Our primary focus is on ensuring the patients of Kauai receive safe, effective medicine to treat their illnesses,” he said.

Aside from the GET tax, there are no other programs in place that will allocate tax money from marijuana-generated revenue. Advocacy members hope GET tax from medical cannabis revenue will benefit the island and the state.

“Ideally, we’d like to see these revenues going into infrastructure and education. These are real considerations that need to be addressed in this state,” said HDA CEO Chris Garth. “The homeless crisis could certainly be helped by these tax dollars.”

Garth said sales may increase if out-of-state patients are permitted to purchase medicine.

“In 2018, we’re looking at the potential opportunity for reciprocation of medical patients from other states to participate in our medical marijuana economy,” he said. “We’re already getting calls from people who are here on vacation and they recognize we have a vibrant medical marijuana program.”

With sales of $5.4 billion in 2015, the legal cannabis sales industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, according to the Arcview Group, a company that tracks marijuana sales around the country. The group said sales will reach $6.7 billion in 2016 and nearly $22 billion in 2020.

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