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Despite medical legalization, Hawaii’s Big Island lacks marijuana dispensaries

Mail It’s been a year since Hawaii’s first legal sale of marijuana and nearly two decades since the state approved it for medical use, but no retail dispensaries have begun selling on the Big Island. Six out of eight dispensaries have opened on all the major islands except Hawaii island, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday. It’s the island with the second-most medical marijuana patients, behind Oahu. A dispensary was expected to open on the Big Island as early as December 2016, but that was pushed back by county permitting and other government requirements. Another challenge dispensaries are facing is geography. Two businesses have run into issues with adequate water supply for firefighting, reported Robert Perreira, battalion chief of the Hawaii Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau. “They put it in locations that didn’t have the proper infrastructure,” he said. “One facility ended up having to install their own water source and fire pump, which took a long time. “Then the other facility also had issues with water supply and also had operational issues they needed to get through.” Meanwhile, Hawaiian Ethos, one of the dispensaries expecting to open on the Big Island, is getting inquiries from patients who have been waiting for dispensaries to arrive, said Zachary Taffany, Hawaiian Ethos’ chief operating officer. “Both licensees on the Big Island still haven’t received permission to cultivate,” he said. Richard Ha, a Big Island farmer and CEO of the other dispensary, Lau Ola, is also eager to get started after spending time on multiple permitting delays. “It just kills us to delay,” Ha said. “But if we want to have a long-term successful operation, we got to do it just precisely. “The longer it takes to get cash flow in, the scarier it is.”