Hawaii Braces for Surge in Medical Cannabis Patients

Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii, United States - August 27, 2016: Prince Kuhio Beach also called The Ponds, because bounded by concrete walls that have created a calm water swimming pool. Kuhio Beach is great for boogie boarding.

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Department of Health is preparing for an upswing of patients signing up for the state’s medical cannabis registry, as two medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are officially open for business.

More than 18,000 patients have joined the state’s medical cannabis registry.

About 38 percent of the patients reside on the Big Island, while 29 percent live on Oahu, Hawaii News Now reported.

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“We do see the beginning of a possible trend that shows more growth happening on Oahu,” said Scottina Ruis, coordinator for the state’s medical cannabis registry program.

The state has managed to bring the turnaround time for applicants down to three to five business days.

“At the high end, when we got the program initially, the process was an entirely paper application process, so a lot different functions for staff,” Ruis said. “I think high end of turnaround time was six to eight weeks.”

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There are four full-time employees and three more will be added by the end of the year.

“We’ve only got so many live bodies and we’re doing our best to keep up with the demand and hopefully, we can stay ahead of that,” Ruis said.