Big Island dispensary gets green light to grow medical marijuana

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HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Department of Health has signaled a green light for a medical marijuana dispensary to start growing on the Big Island.

Hawaiian Ethos is the seventh dispensary to open a production center in the state, and the first on the Big Island.

Eight dispensaries received state licenses in April 2016. A second dispensary on the Big Island has not yet begun operations.

To receive the go-ahead, the dispensary had to build a secure facility, operate a marijuana tracking system and receive authorizations from the state Narcotics Enforcement Division and the state Department of Public Safety, according to the health department.

“All of the licensees have worked hard to meet state standards to create a quality industry in Hawaii that provides a safe product while ensuring patient and public health and safety,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the department’s Office of Health Care Assurance. “We will continue to work diligently with Hawaiian Ethos as they complete construction of their second production center and then seek approval for retail sales.”

Each dispensary can operate two production facilities — each allowed to grow up to 5,000 marijuana plants — and two retail centers.

“Hawaiian Ethos is committed to working with the state and county to comply with all laws and regulations to ensure the health, safety, and confidence of our workers, neighbors, and the entire community,” said Diana Hahn, the dispensary’s director of communications. “Our goal is to serve Hawaii Island residents by cultivating and producing a safe, consistent, and high-quality product that meets the medical needs of registered patients.”

While Hawaii legalized medical cannabis in 2000, the first dispensaries — on Oahu and Maui — didn’t begin operations until last year.

The Big Island dispensary is seeking to begin sales by the end of the year.