Just months after eight Hawaii companies were given the go-ahead to begin growing medical marijuana, the first crops are being harvested and we’ve learned the first dispensaries could be open this summer.
This new timeline comes as a key hurdle that’s slowed the process has been cleared, but it’s not the only challenge that lies ahead.
The harvested marijuana needs to be tested to see if it meets the standards to be sold in a dispensary.
Keith Ridley heads the Office of Health Care Assurance at the Department of Health, and helps oversee the medical marijuana licensing program for the state. He says the state is working with several labs that must prove they have the equipment and personal to ensure accurate and expected results.
“Our concern mostly is for contaminants. If there’s heavy metals, pesticides, or other things that are in there that shouldn’t be ingested, for example, those are the kind of things we’re really more concerned about,” Ridley said. “What to comes down to testing medical marijuana products, we want to make sure that we provide the same kind of scrutiny or the similar scrutiny that we would expect from a drug manufacturer, so the product is safe, and the patient is safe as well.”
Pono Life Sciences is one of the local groups granted licenses to grow and eventually dispense medical marijuana in Hawaii.
“The lab needs the samples to be certified with the state and from there, we can start scaling up production,” said CEO Mike Takano. “What’s more important is that we get a chance for the first time to get a quality assurance test on our product. We get to find out exactly what we have, and what we hoped to have in the strain and we will know we have that.”