High expectations

LIHUE — Patience is a virtue. And the time has come for Justin Britt, CEO of Green Aloha Ltd., to finally let out a sigh of relief.

The Hawaii State Department of Health issued a Notice to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Green Aloha Ltd. Wednesday, becoming the first and only production center on Kauai to receive the go-ahead.

“We’re excited,” Britt said. “It’s been a long road but we’re here, and everything ultimately works out best.”

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers have to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include a proper facility, tracking system and inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center, including authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the state’s Department of Public Safety.

Now that Green Aloha Ltd. has the green light to start growing, Britt and his company’s vision of providing medical marijuana on Kauai is inching closer to reality.

“In four months, we will have medicine,” he said.

Britt said Green Aloha Ltd. will open its doors and begin selling this fall.

In a previous TGI story, Steve Yost, Green Aloha’s head grower, said the facility is ready to start growing.

“It’s nice to see Hawaii launch a program like this that’s still very state regulated. There’s a lot of oversight, testing, a lot of responsibility,” he said.

Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance, said the dispensary license was given to Green Aloha Ltd. after they made “excellent progress” in developing its production sites to comply with state laws and regulations.

Britt said while it took a long time to get the Notice to Proceed, it was worth the wait.

“Everyone has complained about how long it’s been taking, but ultimately it’s the best interests of the patients,” Britt said. “Patients have been struggling, moreso on Kauai than on other islands … It’s harder for patients to get medicine. But now, we’re stoked that we can be able to get growing. It’s been 17 years. I think it’s been a long time coming.”

Also given a Notice to Proceed Wednesday was Manoa Botanicals LLC on Oahu, becoming the third dispensary licensee to complete and operate two medical marijuana production centers.

Green Aloha Ltd. is the fifth dispensary licensee to receive approval to acquire and grow marijuana at their first production center.

As of May 31, the state Department of Health had a little over 17,000 registered patients in the state. Britt aims to supply over 1,600 patients on Kauai, about about 30-40 pounds of cannabis each month.

He previously told TGI prices per gram may reach $15, although he hopes the price will fall to $10 to $12.

The 3,700-square-foot transitional facility cost around $500,000 to build and the plan is to construct two permanent 20,000-square-foot grow facilities over the next three years. The current facility is equipped with four flower rooms and cameras in every room.

Each room will produce harvested cannabis on a 10-week cycle, with new medicine available to patients every two and a half weeks. Each building is allowed to house 3,000 plants.

While it is a time for celebration for Britt and Green Aloha Ltd. as the center is the first and only production center on Kauai allowed to acquire and cultivate, the work to provide Kauai residents with safe and effective medical marijuana is far from over.

“We have to process it all, test it for several weeks and then we can start packaging it for sale,” he said. “We’re still at least a few months out, depending on how long the testing process takes.”

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