Stephen Velasco

Hawaii Dispensaries Stalled Over Permits, Lab Testing

None of Hawaii’s eight dispensaries were approved to open on July, 15, which was supposed to be the first day they were permitted under the law, the Associated Press reports.

The hold-up is due to the state being unable to certify a lab to test the dispensaries’ products and the Department of Health has yet to receive any applications from laboratories interested in testing the goods.

“On the dispensary front, they’re all doing their best to open their doors with as diverse a product line to serve all of the many needs of the patients and all the qualifying conditions that are out there,” Chris Garth, executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance said in the report. “Until those products can be tested in a clinical capacity, no dispensary will be able to open their doors, no matter how perfect their product is.”

Honolulu-based Spectra Analytical Lab has started the application process, but according to Lead Chemist Michael Covington, their lab must be certified to meet international standards which he said is a “big deal.”

The certified lab would test for traces of heavy metals, fungus, and potency.

Dean Okimoto, chief agronomist for Pono Life Sciences, said the company is still awaiting Health Department permit approval for potential grow and dispensary sites.  

“I’m glad we’re going slowly and cautiously because we want to be doing this the right way, and making sure that the people of Hawaii are protected in all of this,” Okimoto said.

There is an estimated 13,000 Hawaiian patients approved for the program who are forced into the informal market or to grow their own medicine. Dispensary owners are hopeful their sites will be open for business by the end of the year.

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