60 applied, but only 8 licenses were available in Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Dispensary program – and those who made the cut on Friday still have a way to go.
Hawaii’s Department of Health will now begin working with the selected licensees on what will be a very intensives process.
“There are many steps the dispensaries will need to take in order to actually start production and dispensing, so we can’t say exactly when the dispensing will begin. But we are excited to start working with the selected licensees on the next steps,” said Margaret Leong, Supervisor of the licensing program.
Under the initiative, dispensing isn’t able to commence before mid-July this year. Each licensee will be permitted to operate up to two production centers and two retail dispensing storefronts in the county where their license has been granted.
The selection panel scored applications based on thirteen merit criteria; but the scores won’t be publicly available for a couple of weeks. The application process appears to have been quite grueling; going as far to require fingerprints of the individuals involved in the entities. While the panel started out with 5 reviewers, one needed to withdraw a couple of weeks ago for unspecified reasons; which put additional pressure on those who remained.
A notable absence on the list of successful applicants announced on Friday was actor Woody Harrelson’s bid on behalf of his company, Simple Organic Living LLC.
But the show isn’t over for Woody and the others just yet.
If some of those who have been approved fall by the wayside for whatever reason, the Department has unselected applications in reserve to offer a license to the next highest scoring applicant.
Under the initiative, three licenses will be issued for the City and County of Honolulu, two each for the County of Hawaii and the County of Maui, and one for the County of Kauai.
While medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since 2000, access has been a problem as patients and caregivers have needed to grow their own cannabis plants. The dispensary program has been designed to make medicinal products more easily available.