Hawaii Names Medical Marijuana Dispensary Panel

Cannabis Dispensaries In Hawaii
Image: Laurie Avocado - Cropped version of [1], CC BY 2.0, Link

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has chosen a selection panel for review of the first medical cannabis dispensary licensees in the state. 

The DOH says the candidates were selected for their relevant experience and knowledge, and carefully screened for any potential conflicts.

“It is critical that the selection process be as fair and objective as possible and free from improper outside influence, said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “It is equally important that the process be as transparent as possible without compromising its integrity.”

The five panel members are:

  • H. David Bess
  • James E. Duffy, Jr.
  • John Fisher III, Pharm. D.
  • Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser
  • Keith R. Ridley

A backgrounder on each of the panelists can be viewed here (PDF).

The DOH has warned that any attempt by a dispensary license applicant to contact or influence a selection panel member may negatively impact their application.

Assuming no unforeseen delays, the selected dispensary licensees are expected to be announced by April 15, 2016.

A total of eight licenses will be issued initially. Each dispensary licensee allowed to operate up to two production facilities and two retail dispensing locations.

In addition to a lengthy application form and copious amounts of supporting documentation, prospective licensees have been required to stump up a non-refundable application fee of USD $5,000. This didn’t appear to be a major discouragement, as a total of 66 applications were received during the application period.

It seems that successful applicants won’t have any shortage of customers.

According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, at the end of February there were more than 1,800 additional people registered as medical cannabis patients than in January 2015; the first month the DOH began overseeing the program. The registry has grown from  11,402 people in January last year to 13,244.

Currently, patients must grow their own plants and prepare their own cannabis medications;  or have a registered caregiver do so on their behalf.

In a related development, a bill to enable Hawaii’s farmers to grow and sell industrial hemp was given the green light in the State House of Representatives earlier this month and is now headed for the Senate.