The medical marijuana scene in Hawaii is on the way to becoming one of the most active legal cannabis communities in the US. Currently, the state is accepting applicants to pioneer the region’s first batch of medical dispensaries. Surprisingly, the local sector has attracted a handful of celebrity applicants, including True Detective’s Woody Harrelson.
Opening up Shop in Hawaii
The actor, who is now 54, filed for a license at Honolulu County under the company Simple Organic Living. Previously, Harrelson had several marijuana-related run-ins with the law. In 1996, he was arrested for planting hemp seeds in Kentucky. “Hemp was never about marijuana. Marijuana’s about marijuana. That’s consensual, victimless crime. That’s saying, I think I should have the freedom to do whatever the hell I want to do if I’m living in a so-called free country, as long as I’m not hurting someone else. That’s freedom,” Harrelson explained during an interview with Esquire.
His openness toward smoking cannabis started with hemp legalization, though the actor eventually admitted to partaking recreationally in 2003 during the NORML conference. In addition to Harrelson, Henk Rogers also sent in an application for a license under Blue Planet Healing, an organization that promotes natural energy conservation practices in the area. Rogers is known for creating the iconic video game “Tetris” over two decades ago. His solar-powered home is a symbol of the group’s views on energy independence.
Entering Hawaii’s Legal Cannabis Market
If all goes according to plan, Hawaii will launch a cluster of cannabis dispensaries in July and August. There are over 60 applicants who are all very interested in becoming the first to open up shop in the state. During the next two months, Hawaii’s Department of Health will carefully review each submission and create a shortlist of suitable applicants. On April 15, the group will award selected applicants with dispensary permits.
The barriers to entry of obtaining a license and opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Hawaii are very steep. First, the applicant must have at least $1 million in cash, prior to holding a license. An additional $100,000 is needed for every dispensary branch established. Moreover, individuals must have been residents of the state for at least five years. It’s important to consider that meeting these strict requirements does not guarantee the acquisition of the dispensary permit.
“Under a law passed in 2015, the state will grant eight licenses for marijuana business owners across the islands. The law allows medical marijuana businesses to have two production centers and two retail dispensaries, for a total of 16 dispensaries statewide. Six are allowed on Oahu, four on Hawaii Island, four on Maui and two on Kauai,” wrote Marina Riker from Associated Press.
This post was originally published on February 8, 2015, it was updated on March 15, 2017.