Marijuana Dispensaries Could Mean Big Money

Jul 17, 2015

Credit Dank Depot / Flickr

Now that Governor David Ige has signed medical marijuana dispensaries into law, a new industry worth tens of millions could bloom. Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more.

About 13,000 people in Hawaii have permission to use medical marijuana to treat various conditions. Medical marijuana has been legal for 15 years, but with one hitch – it has not been easy for patients to actually acquire it.

That will change now that Hawaii has paved the way for medical marijuana dispensaries, along with growing facilities to supply the dispensaries. Clearly, there’s money to be made in this new industry, but how much? PBN took a stab at estimating that, based on such factors as how many patients there are, how much they’re authorized to use, the going rate for medical marijuana and the pricing experiences of states that already have dispensaries.

Our best guess is that the dispensaries could be a $30 million industry. For comparison, Hawaii’s annual macadamia nut crop is worth almost $35 million, it’s coffee crop, $54 million.

This will not be an easy business to get into however. Rules are still being formalized but we know this much: only eight dispensary licenses will be granted in the state, each allowing a maximum of two dispensaries. Applicants for these licenses will need to pay a $5,000 application fee and have to prove they have $1.2 million in funding lined up. Should they be granted a license they have to pony up a $75,000 license fee.

As if that wasn’t intense enough, this is a roll of the dice for everyone involved, from the state to the would-be dispensary owners. Marijuana, medical or not, remains a schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law. Washington is taking a hands-off approach for now, but there are no guarantees that will last.