Maui Grown Therapies aims to start medical marijuana sales in mid-July

Small, white-colored outgrowths from a Maui Grown Therapies cannabis flower, known as Trichomes, can be seen inside the company’s Kula production center. The crystallike hairs contain all the active compounds of cannabis plants. -- Maui Grown Therapies photo

Small, white-colored outgrowths from a Maui Grown Therapies cannabis flower, known as Trichomes, can be seen inside the company’s Kula production center. The crystallike hairs contain all the active compounds of cannabis plants. -- Maui Grown Therapies photo

July 17 is the target date for Maui Grown Therapies to begin selling medical marijuana by appointment only to registered patients, pending certification of a testing lab in Hawaii and other state Department of Health approvals, a spokeswoman said Friday.

“It’s very exciting for us, and we’re actively recruiting employees,” said Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs. “We’ve been interviewing for several positions within the company, and we have our training program teed up and ready to go.

“We have a lot of patients looking forward to us opening as well.”

The company plans to offer flowers and an assortment of cannabis-derived products such as oils, tinctures and capsules to patients signed up on its website and registered in the state medical marijuana program. Freitas Gorman said patients signed up on the company’s website will be contacted to set up an appointment during the first several weeks after sales begin.

Before the company can begin selling its products, a lab needs to be certified by the state. PharmLabs Hawaii in Kahului is the only lab on Maui and still needs to submit documentation to the state Laboratories Division, Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

The division is waiting for validation studies for THC — the main mind-altering ingredient found in cannabis, as well as heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium), pesticides, solvents, moisture content and microbial impurities, and proficiency testing results from PharmLabs, Okubo said. After the studies are submitted, the state can conduct an on-site audit to certify the lab, she said.

“The labs are progressing and gradually giving us documentation and materials,” she said. “We’re anticipating them being certified this summer, but it really is dependent on them providing us with the materials.”

Okubo could not say whether the department would be ready by July 17, but offered “that sounds reasonable.”

“We can’t predict what might happen from now until then,” she said.

Pono Life Maui, the island’s other licensed medical marijuana dispenser, has been providing PharmLabs with its product to help the lab pass the certification process. The company announced earlier this month that it was the first dispensary in the state to transport cannabis to a lab for testing.

“We’re doing everything we can to help get the labs certified,” Pono Life Maui Chief Executive Officer Michael Takano said. “With our cultivation program, we’re continuing to expand our production and (provide) products to help get labs certified as well as refine our products.”

Takano said that his company is testing products weekly and would be ready to sell as soon as it is given the go-ahead by the state and labs.

The Health Department’s dispensary rules and computer tracking system are in place and ready, Okubo said. The lab certification process has been in place since May 2016, she said.

As sales near, Maui Grown Therapies added to its staff Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Abrams will join the company’s Science & Medical Advisory Group. He also serves as an integrative oncologist and professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Dr. Abrams is definitely one of the leading experts and physician/researchers in the medical cannabis sector,” Freitas Gorman said.

The company plans to host a public open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at its dispensary at 44 Pa’a St. in the Maui Lani Village Center. Participants must be at least 21 years old.

For more information, visit www.mauigrowntherapies.com or call 866-7576.

For more information on Pono Life Maui and its education program, visit www.ponolife.net or call 489-9454.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.

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