It's been 17 years since Hawai'i legalized medical marijuana. In 2015, the legislature passed a measure setting up a dispensary program. Eight dispensaries have been approved around the state-and now one of Maui's two licensed dispensaries has begun testing its cannabis crop for sale to patients. We get more on the story from Colleen Uechi of the Maui News.
About a week and a half ago, Pono Life Sciences Maui transported two grams of marijuana from its growing facilities to PharmLabs Hawaii in Kahului. The company has not disclosed the location of its cannabis farm.
Transporting marijuana is a carefully scrutinized process. Pono Life Sciences needed approval from the state Department of Health and the Narcotics Division, and a "safe route" had to be designed to avoid sensitive areas, like schools. The weight of the marijuana leaving the facility was recorded at departure and confirmed upon arrival.
At PharmLabs in Kahului, three strains of marijuana are being tested for potency and microbial and pesticide content. Pono Life said potency results will be announced this week.
No lab in the state is yet certified to test medical cannabis for quality assurance. However, Pono Life said it received approval to do provisional testing so it can assess its product so far. Three facilities, including PharmLabs, are awaiting certification. Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo says officials anticipate the first lab will be certified this summer.
Pono Life Sciences CEO Michael Takano expects to start sales later this month or in July.
Maui's other licensed dispensary is Maui Grown Therapies, which also hopes to begin selling as early as next month.