The two-and-one-half year wait is finally over for medical cannabis patients living on the Big Island of Hawaii, more accurately known as Hawai‘i Island. For the 6,659 registered medical marijuana cardholders, this is a day for the history books.
Big Island Grown opened in Hilo, and is the first medical marijuana dispensary operating on the largest island in the United States.
With the line halfway around the building by the time Big Island Grown Dispensary opened, patients shared in their excitement and relief to finally have safe, reliable access to high-quality medical marijuana. When the doors opened at 11 a.m., only the first 30 patients in line were welcomed inside.
Aaron Townsend, of Ainaloa, was the first customer to purchase medical marijuana in Hilo. Townsend, who suffers from chronic back pain, has held a medical marijuana card for seven years.
First to receive approval to begin operating after a final inspection by the state Department of Health, Big Island Grown is rising to the challenge of providing exceptional product and service to patients.
“It’s been a great learning experience,” said Dylan Shropshire, the company’s new chief executive officer. “With getting the license and really understanding what’s necessary to roll out the proper infrastructure and production and retail locations so you can follow the law and get properly controlled and tested medication to patients.”
Variety Is Important
Announcing that there will be 100 strains available to patients throughout the next year, only four different strains were offered at the grand opening. Patients were also able to purchase tinctures and edibles.
Having multiple strains to choose from is important for patients because each strain produces different effects. What works for one person may not be ideal for another, and some strains are better for pain relief where others are more successful at relieving symptoms of PTSD.
Ryan Jones has been a cardholding patient for five years, and until now he has only had access to whatever nameless strain his “friend” is able to supply at the time. “I know my friend’s stuff is cheaper, but sometimes it isn’t as good,” Jones said. “The wider variety of options at Big Island Grown might be worth the higher price.”
Two more Big Island Grown locations are expected to open later this month on Hawai‘i Island. One will be in Waimea and the other will be in Kona.
This may be the first retailer on the biggest of the Hawaiian Islands, but dispensaries have already been serving patients on Maui since August of 2018.
Photo Courtesy of Hawaii Tribune