Lau Ola cleared to grow marijuana

  • Ha

HILO — A second marijuana dispensary on the Big Island was authorized by the state Department of Health to grow and sell cannabis products.

Lau Ola LLC, one of two licensed Big Island marijuana dispensaries, last week was issued a “notice to proceed to acquire and cultivate cannabis,” having met all state requirements to produce medical marijuana products.

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Lau Ola is the last of eight Hawaii businesses awarded a medical marijuana dispensary license in 2016 to receive the notice to proceed. The six licensees on other Hawaiian Islands already opened dispensaries.

The other licensed dispensary on Hawaii Island, Hawaiian Ethos LLC, was issued its notice to proceed in August.

The license to proceed indicates a dispensary successfully passed all of the state’s inspections and requirements for medical marijuana growers. Some of the requirements include proper building security for the growing facility and dispensaries, installing a computer tracking inventory system and approval from the state Department of Public Safety’s Narcotics Enforcement Division.

With the notice issued, the last major obstacle to Lau Ola opening was lifted. Lau Ola’s opening date has been somewhat fluid, with CEO Richard Ha saying in February he intended to open in July.

“We’ve actually started growing now,” Ha said Wednesday. “And once you’re there, that’s pretty much it, we’re just about there.”

Ha said he hopes to open the first of Lau Ola’s dispensaries at the end of this year or the beginning of 2019. The company will have dispensary locations in Hilo, Kona and Waimea, which Ha said will open within a month of each other, although he added that he would prioritize opening the Hilo location first.

Before opening, however, Ha said he intends to host a series of informational meetings for community members to learn about the laws and benefits surrounding the medical marijuana industry.

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Hawaiian Ethos’ opening date for its Kailua-Kona dispensary remains unknown, despite receiving its license to proceed more than two months ago. Representatives from Hawaiian Ethos did not respond to requests for comment made over a several-day period.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com