Hawaii al­lows lab to begin test­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Hawaii ap­proved its first lab­o­ra­tory to begin test­ing sam­ples of med­i­cal mar­i­juana 17 years af­ter use of the drug was le­gal­ized in the state. On Mon­day, the state Depart­ment of Health cer­ti­fied Honolulu-based lab Steep Hill Hawaii. That brings Hawaii closer to the long-awaited date when dis­pen­saries can sell their prod­ucts. Hawaii was among the first states to le­gal­ize med­i­cal mar­i­juana in 2000. But the state didn't le­gal­ize dis­pen­saries un­til 2015, leav­ing about 17,000 pa­tients to grow or ob­tain the drug on their own.

Then med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries be­gan open­ing in Hawaii this sum­mer, but they could not sell their prod­ucts be­cause the state had not cer­ti­fied any labs to con­duct the re­quired test­ing. So they con­ducted out­reach in­stead. "This is a big mile­stone, and it couldn't have come any sooner, be­cause many peo­ple within the in­dus­try were get­ting frus­trated and a lit­tle an­gry at the time it has taken to get to this point," said state Sen. Will Espero, a Demo­crat. "But now that we are here, hope­fully the next phase in terms of sales will hap­pen quickly and ev­ery­thing will go smoothly." Once the lab re­ceives sam­ples, it will take about four days to test and re­turn prod­ucts to dis­pen­saries for sale, said Dana Cic­cone, owner of Steep Hill Hawaii. Then the dis­pen­sary will un­dergo one fi­nal in­spec­tion by the Depart­ment of Health with the prod­uct present, depart­ment spokes­woman Jan­ice Okubo said. That on-site in­spec­tion and ac­com­pa­ny­ing pa­per­work could take 24 to 48 hours, she said. Steep Hill worked tire­lessly over the past year to re­ceive cer­ti­fi­ca­tion so pa­tients could fi­nally ac­cess safe, le­gal cannabis, Cic­cone said in an email.

"To­day is a big step in the right di­rec­tion for Hawaii's Med­i­cal Cannabis in­dus­try," he said. The prod­uct at Honolulu-based dis­pen­sary Aloha Green has been ready for months, and dis­pen­sary CEO James H.Q. Lee said he hopes to begin the lab test­ing process Tues­day. "We've been wait­ing, so that's very good news. I think the pa­tients will be happy," Lee said. But Lee still has ques­tions about what size sam­ple to pre­pare, and he hasn't got­ten a de­fin­i­tive an­swer from the Depart­ment of Health, he said.

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