Fingerprinting, background checks could delay medical marijuana selection

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The Hawaii State Department of Health may not announce first licensees for the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program as soon as previously stated.

The names of the selected licensees are expected to be announced by April 15. However, the state said Friday recent developments could delay that.

First, one of the panel members was unable to fully participate in the selection, and his scoring will not be included. Peggy Leong, Supervisor of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Program explained, “It has just recently come to my attention that Dr. John Fisher, through no fault on his part, was not able to continue with his review. I’m not at liberty to share more details, in the interest of Dr. Fisher’s privacy. We thank him for his time and assistance to date and wish him well.”

The review and selection of the applicants will continue with the remaining four panel members.

In addition, the Department has encountered delays related to the required fingerprinting and background checks of the applicants. This has resulted in a notice Thursday night to the applicants to submit their fingerprints through the contracted service provider, Fieldprint, by next week Tuesday in order for the department to complete the mandatory review of the applications by the Friday deadline.

“The process to select licensees involves coordination of several complex systems that required multiple levels of testing, including the fingerprinting and background checks. The applicants were aware from the start that this was a requirement and we appreciate their cooperation and efforts in complying as quickly as possible,” Leong said. “If the applicants are not able to comply with the short turnaround time, or the department is unable to review the background check results when they are received, we may need to wait to announce the final selection.”

“We are pushing ahead with the selection and doing everything possible to make the announcement by the April 15 deadline set out in the statute,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, health department director. “But we would rather have a good result than release the names prematurely just to meet an arbitrary deadline.”

The medical marijuana dispensary law, Chapter 329D, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), allows DOH to award a total of eight licenses initially: three licenses for the City and County of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each for the County of Hawaii and the County of Maui, and one dispensary license for the County of Kauai. Each dispensary licensee will be allowed to operate up to two production centers and two retail-dispensing locations.

Click here for more information about the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program.

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