Politics  The latest in cannabis legalization including laws and policies, legislators’ views, election coverage, and more.

If You Want a Hawaii Dispensary License, You Better Apply Soon

Hawaii is one step closer to opening medical dispensaries on the islands. On Jan. 12, the Hawaii Department of Health began accepting applications from those hoping to land one of eight licenses for cannabis production and distribution. 

Each license is valid for two dispensaries and two production sites. Qualifying criteria are strict: prospective business owners must be legal residents of Hawaii and have at least $1 million in the bank. The application fee is $5,000, non-refundable. 

The state plans to spread 16 dispensaries across the islands according to population, with six on Oahu, four on the Big Island, four on Maui, and two on Kauai.

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Entering the medical marijuana industry means navigating a series of legal challenges, which were compounded last September when the Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court, an 18-member body that deals with legal misconduct, released a recommendation that would have barred Hawaii lawyers from providing legal services to cannabis clients. 

The Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the decision and allowed Hawaii lawyers to assist “a client regarding conduct expressly permitted by Hawaii law, provided that the lawyer counsels the client about the legal consequences, under other applicable law, of the client’s proposed course of conduct.” In other words: Beware federal prohibition. The court’s reversal came just in time for attorneys to advise potential dispensary owners on the application process.

Applications can only be filed online and must be completed by Jan. 29 at 4:30 p.m. HST. The Department of Health is expecting to announce license winners by April 15. From there, accredited dispensaries can begin distributing of medicinal cannabis after July 15.  

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