The State Department of Health today released its FAQ addressing questions about the new interim rules for Hawaii’s new medical marijuana dispensary system and the merit criteria that dispensary applicants will be evaluated on.  This release, hot on the heals of the early release of the interim rules last week, comes as an encouraging sign that DoH is trying to interact with the industry with transparency regarding the application process, even though the department was exempted from traditional public comment and engagement rules by Act 241.

DoH will have further opportunity to hear from the industry in an informational briefing on Monday, December 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm in Conference Room 325, at the Capitol, before the House Committee on Health and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health. The details can be found here.  As mentioned in our last post, the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance is extremely honored to join the State Department of Health, State Department of Public Safety, State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, and the Hawaii State Bar Association in discussing the status and progress of the implementation of Act 241, relating to medical marijuana, the promulgation of interim rules and regulations pursuant to Act 241, and areas of further policy development related to medical marijuana dispensaries.

DoH’s release of the FAQ comes at an opportune time for the Alliance and for the industry as we gather our thoughts in preparation for the informational meeting on the 28th.  The FAQ provides clarification for a number of points, but it also outlines a number of new questions as well.

Some interesting clarifications and new questions include:

  • Appendices and supporting documents will be allowed in the applications. These documents do not have a page limit and must be clearly marked as to how they support the narrative answers to each of the applications 13 criteria. The narrative answers must meet the stated page limits.  However, please note that later in the FAQ, DoH reminds applicants that along with the narratives, any attachments and the information they contain will become conditions of the license if a license is awarded for that application.
  • Letters of Recommendation in support of an application will be accepted as supporting documentation with the application, but not as a separate submittal. DoH has discretion whether or not to consider the letters, and applicants should know that the letters may be subject to public disclosure in the future.
  • Public disclosure of the applications, which will contain sensitive business data for the applicants and businesses previously owned by applicants, will be subject to disclosure or protection according to Chapter 92F, HRS, the Uniform Information Practices Act.
  • Regarding the greenhouse question, it remains unclear as to the type of material allowed for the roof. Right now DoH’s interpretation of Act 241’s requirements of an indoor, enclosed facility with an interior not visible to the outside requires that the walls and the roof be opaque. However, DoH indicates that as long as the interior is not visible from the outside the material from which the opaque roof is constructed may still allow light insight. Though what type of materials qualify and whether it will be able to function as a greenhouse and still meet the requirements is left as an open question.

As you can see, DoH’s FAQ answered some pressing questions for applicants and raised a host of new ones.  In preparation for the informational briefing on Dec. 28th, your Alliance will be reaching out to the industry and related businesses and stakeholders to understand your concerns with the rules and areas that need further clarification. Be on the lookout right here and on our Facebook page over the next few days to find out how you can submit your thoughts on the new rules.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

If you have any questions about this process or to be more directly involved, do contact us right away. We look forward to speaking with you in person, on Facebook or Twitter, and over the phone. You should also consider joining the Alliance today to receive the Alliance’s Hawai‘i specific newsletter and analysis of the new rules in our upcoming issue.


DoH Releases FAQ About New Interim Dispensary Rules – Answering Many Questions and Raising a Few More