Marijuana dispensaries could still open on time, despite selection delay

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Could the opening of Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensaries be delayed?

That’s what some are wondering after the deadline for selecting the first licensees who will be operating them was pushed back.

Licensees were supposed to be announced Friday, but the state Department of Health encountered delays in the fingerprinting and background-check process.

So what does it mean moving forward for both vendors and patients who will use the dispensaries?

“The process has been fairly smooth, but it has been a very aggressive timeline,” said Dani Wong Tomiyasu, DOH health services deputy director. “It is a new process, so we are all learning as we go.”

Now, officials are aiming for April 29.

“The staff are working incredibly hard to make sure they do a complete review of all the background checks of the applicants,” said Wong Tomiyasu.

The goal is to have the medical marijuana vendors open July 15, but will this current delay mean that date will also be pushed back?

“We can’t predict what is going to happen between now and July, but we are making every effort to meet the deadlines and timelines,” said Wong Tomiyasu.

What do the potential vendors think? KHON2 spoke to Peter Carlisle, who represents one of the businesses.

“I think that it is a relatively minor inconvenience in terms of the delay and in terms of the ultimate impact,” he said. “I don’t suspect it is going to have any impact whatsoever. Of course, this is speculation.”

While the delays have caused some headaches for the department, officials remain hopeful moving forward.

“We want to get these dispensaries up and running so that the patients can get access to it, because I think the patients have been waiting a long time for the dispensaries to be available to them,” said Wong Tomiyasu.

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