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Medical marijuana dispensary almost ready to open

Maui Grown Therapies will be ready to sell medical marijuana products in July at its retail store in the Maui Lani Village Center, pending state Department of Health approval of a lab to test the products. Maui Grown Therapies photo

KAHULUI — Medical marijuana products could be available by July at one of Maui’s two licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, a company official said Wednesday.

The date will depend on the state Department of Health, which still needs to approve a lab for product testing before sales can begin, said Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs for Maui Grown Therapies.

In the meantime, the company is developing oils, tinctures, creams, topicals, capsules and other products in preparation for customers at its retail store in the Maui Lani Village Center.

The 2,112-square-foot building at 44 Pa’a St. will be open to the public — those at least 21 years and older — for viewing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and April 2. Photography and video recording are forbidden inside the dispensary, and cellphones only may be used outside due to state law.

“It’s been really fun to see this thing come to life, and now I think it has a bit of a personality, too,” Freitas Gorman said of the store. “It’s exciting.”

Maui Grown Therapies’ 2,112-square-foot retail store will be holding open houses to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and April 22. Photography and video recording are forbidden by state law. Once open for business, medical marijuana cardholders will be able to speak with dispensary workers about products and pricing inside the store’s education room (Third photo). Maui Grown Therapies photo

Freitas Gorman provided a tour Wednesday morning of the nearly completed facility, which was blessed last month. Maui vendors, artists and photographers supplied much of the store’s furniture and artwork, which is complimented by quiet island music and air conditioning.

Factor in stylish couches, throw pillows and warm lighting, and the store appears more like a resort than a stereotypical marijuana dispensary on the Mainland.

“During our blessing, a lot of people were like, ‘Oh my God, this is nothing what I thought it would be,”’ Freitas Gorman said. “I guess they thought it was going to be a head shop or something like that.”

Several 360-degree security cameras monitor each room, and custom security glass has been installed in windows and doors, she said. A photo is taken of every visitor that enters and exits each room of the store, she said.

State law does not allow media or anyone aside from the licensee to take photos or video inside the dispensary due to security risks, Freitas Gorman said. She noted that the store is “more secure than a bank.”

Maui Grown Therapies photo

“We’ve built several security features into this building that are not visible to the naked eye, and we wanted it that way,” she said. “This is Maui. We didn’t want steel bars over the windows. We wanted it to just look like our neighbors, and I think we succeeded in doing that.”

Anyone may visit the store for information on the Health Department’s Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Program. About 25 workers will staff the dispensary and be available to speak to visitors in the waiting room.

Only registered cardholders will be allowed into the next area, the education room, where a patient care specialist will answer questions from customers and help place orders on an iPad, Freitas Gorman said. She said a price list, photos of the products and complimentary coffee and snacks will be available to customers.

The next room will be for the transaction, where cardholders can see the physical plants and products for purchase. Customers will not be allowed to physically handle or smell the plants, which will be packaged in small display bottles and placed in glass cases, in accordance with state law, Freitas Gorman said. She added that no more than eight people can be in the sales room at one time.

All products are sold in opaque childproof containers that are sealed and cannot be opened on the premises, including in the parking lot, Freitas Gorman said. The outside view looking through the windows will be blocked, but sunshine will be able to get through inside, she said.

The store plans to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and will adjust according to traffic patterns, Freitas Gorman said. The store will be ready to open by July.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” she said.

A price range for products could not be provided due to undetermined lab testing costs and a possible tax on medical marijuana, Freitas Gorman said. She pointed out, though, that the company’s 100 percent self-sufficient solar-powered Kula production center would bring costs down. Energy is typically the first- or second-highest expense for medical marijuana companies, she said.

Products will primarily be stored at the production center and delivered to the store as needed, Freitas Gorman said. There is no price control over products, which can be sold at what the market will bear.

“Our focus is purely medical, and we want to make sure all patients have access to it if they want it,” she said. “We’ll also have special pricing available for people on public assistance and things of that nature.”

The company has already built a second production center, which is on the verge of being inspected and approved, and plans to announce another retail store later this year or next year, Freitas Gorman said. The company is looking at a few locations for the second store, she said.

Licensees are allowed to have two production centers and two retail stores.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to satisfy demand out of here,” she said. “It’s really a matter of seeing what happens when we get up and running.”

Maui Grown Therapies has been holding educational workshops and meetings with medical professionals about cannabis therapies and the state’s registry program. The company is co-founded by David Cole and Dr. Gregory Park.

Maui’s other dispensary, Pono Life Maui, has been approved to begin cultivation and will be selling products out of its dispensary in the former Hawaiian Island Surf & Sport store on Dairy Road in Kahului. The business is expected to be open seven days a week and will host educational events to teach people about medical marijuana and the state’s medical marijuana program.

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

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