On Monday, July 31, the Hawaii Department of Health granted Steep Hill Hawaii, a private independent laboratory on Oahu, a provisional certification to begin testing medical cannabis from the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries and registered patients and caregivers. Steep Hill Hawaii was given the green light after successfully passing its final onsite inspection and proving it has the capacity and proficiency to test cannabis and cannabis products according to state law.
This has been a long-awaited step for Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensaries, bringing them closer to serving the almost 14,000 patients with medical marijuana cards in the state. It’s been over a year since the state’s eight medical marijuana dispensary licensees have been allowed to start selling cannabis products, but none have been able to open for business because the dispensaries are required to have their products tested for safety by a state-certified independent laboratory prior to sale and none of the testing labs had been certified for testing – until now.
The Department of Health says it is currently working with two others independent facilities, including Kahului-based PharmLabs Hawaii, to help them obtain certification and expects them to be certified soon.
Maui Grown Therapies, one of two Maui licensed dispensaries, said Monday that medical cannabis samples from its production center are already on their way to Steep Hill Hawaii Lab for testing. The tests will measure potency and safety, including cannabinoid profile and levels of THC as well as heavy metals such as arsenic, pesticides, solvents, moisture content, microbial contaminants, intestinal bacteria and pathogens, dangerous molds that can cause infection and disease, and toxins produced by molds.
Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs for Maui Grown Therapies, said it will take the lab 3-5 days to test the samples. Once the products pass testing and are returned to the dispensary, the Health Department will watch a rehearsal of a sale, inspect security programs, and ensure the dispensary is in compliance with all regulations.
If everything goes well, Maui Grown Therapies hopes to open within the next couple weeks, possibly sooner. The dispensary, located in Maui Lani Village Center, wants to ease into business to ensure patients, staff, and the surrounding community “have a good experience with us beginning operations.” They plan hold a soft opening for a week or two and serve only patients who have registered with them by appointment with no walk-ins and start by selling flowers, capsules, and oil concentrates and expanding offerings later.
Maui Grown Therapies has registered nearly 300 patients through open houses since April. There are almost 4,000 registered medical marijuana patients on Maui.
Pono Life Sciences, Maui’s other licensed dispensary, has been working with all three labs seeking certification and plans to begin sales sometime this summer.