Aloha Alliance!

The January meeting of the Legislative Working Group tasked with improving the laws and regulations overseeing Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana industry came to a close on January 25th. In the audience were over a dozen members of the Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance, representing every aspect of the industry. The Committee heard from Big Island dispensary, Lau Ola, LLC, about their progress, plans, and obstacles to development. The Department of Health gave a brief update on the status of the registry system and the dispensary system (UPDATE: Plants can be in the ground at the dispensaries as early as February 1st!). The various subcommittees gave interim reports on their meetings and progress; and the meeting closed with audience questions and answers.

The University of Hawai‘i Public Policy Center administers the operations of the working group and posts all documents generated by and for the committee to their website. If you would like to sign up for the working group’s email list, email your request to

This article will cover everything that happened in the meeting today in a detailed narrative, much like a Q&A, organized according to the meeting agenda. If you would like to watch the meeting yourself, it aired on Olelo Channel 49 at 1 pm, January 25, 2017, entitled Act 230 Working Group. If you have any questions about the meeting, or about how to get involved, email us at or find us on Facebook.

Panel Members Present and Review of December Meeting Minutes

The meeting began with a brief introduction of all of the committee members, including a few new names. The list of participants at today’s meeting and their affiliation include:

Present Panel Members

  • Representative Della Au Belatti, Co-Chair
  • Senator Rosalyn Baker, Co-Chair
  • Representative Joy San Buenaventura
  • Scottina Ruis, Medical Marijuana Registry Program Coordinator
  • Keith Ridley, Hawai‘i Department of Health, Office of Healthcare Assurance
  • Christopher Garth, Executive Director, Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance
  • Carl Bergquist, Drug Policy Forum
  • Michael Takano, Pono Life Sciences, Maui CountyDispensary
  • Richard Ha, Lau Ola, Hawai‘i County Dispensary
  • Greg Yim, Doctor
  • Stacy Kracher, APRN/RX
  • Thomas Wills, University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center
  • Karen Kahikina, Department of Transportation, Airports Division
  • Patricia Wilson – HPD
  • Jari Sugano – Guardian of a Patient under 18
  • Bill Jarvis – Patient
  • John Paul Bingham – CTAHR
  • Ally Park – Clinical Laboratories Hawaii (Pending Certified Laboratory Representative)

The working group is administered by Dr. Susan Chandler and the University of Hawai‘i Public Policy Center, with assistance from Center Director Collin Moore; Dr. Michelle Ibanez; and Joy Agner, policy assistant.

The minutes from the December meeting were approved overall with a couple of brief edits.

  • Michael Takano, Pono Life Sciences was present
  • Spelling of the medical board representative’s name was corrected
  • CEU was corrected to CME

Dispensary Presentation: Lau Ola, LLC

The meeting began with a presentation from Lau Ola, LLC, one of the two Big Island dispensaries. Each of the dispensaries will be presenting over the next few months to update the Committee about their progress, their contact with current patients, and any obstacles of general application that they are facing.

Lau Ola, LLC, was represented by Richard Ha, CEO of Lau Ola, LLC, as well as Tracy Ryan, CEO of CannaKids, Dylan Shropshire, Autumn Karcey, Jaclyn Moore, Pharm.D.

Mr. Ha led opened the presentation with a focus on Lau Ola’s core values, specifying that when he was asked to join, he had three conditions – Lau Ola had to create jobs for agriculture workers, his neighbors needed to have additional security and assurances, and his position in the company had to be meaningful with actual influence over the director of Lau Ola.

According to Mr. Ha, quoting Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, “In order for Lau Ola to be sustainable, it must be environmentally sustainable, economically sustainable, and socially sustainable.” That is what we hope to be.

Mr. Ha then introduced Lau Ola’s small but effective leadership team:

  • Nelson Makua, Artist and Designer
  • Jenea Respicio, Administrator
  • Autumn Karcey, Facilities/Operations
  • Dylan Shropshire, Chief Production Officer
  • James Rushing, M.S., Tropical Agriculture
  • Richard Ha, CEO
  • Jaclyn Moore, Pharm.D., Pharmacist
  • Chris Respicio, Agriculture


Mr. Ha then discussed Lau Ola’s current progress, focusing on Lau Ola’s mission of “Adopting Environmentally, Socially, and Economically Sustainable Business Practices”

Community Outreach

Lau Ola is working to promote transparency in its relationship with its surrounding community. They are soliciting feedback from their neighbors, working with a host of local charitable and governmental organization, and addressing their questions and concerns at town meetings, in person, and at a hosted community potluck.

Environmental Sustainability

Lau Ola’s environmental sustainability plans include the use of all electricity coming to the farm instead of allowing any to be wasted, and a very conscious attention to waste disposal. The dispensary will also operate in an enclosed facility that will not need pesticides.

Forming Relationships with Industry Leaders in Research and Patient Care

Lau Ola is proud to align with Tracy Ryan and CannaKids, a California Cooperative Cooperation that specializes in the creation of lab tested, and PhD scientist extracted cannabis oils.

Tracy Ryan then took a turn to talk about Lau Ola’s product plans in conjunction with CannaKids, starting with the story of CannaKids.

Tracy’s daughter Sophie was diagnosed with an Optic Pathway Glioma Tumor (OPG) at 8 and ½ months of age. This tumor could have killed her, and would most likely have left her blind from childhood. Yet after researching and trying medical cannabis, Sophie now has full vision, and the tumor actually shrank! (A kind of tumor that is not known to shrink via other treatments). This inspired Tracy to found CannaKids, because a working cancer treatment was not a secret she could keep to herself.

CannaKids works with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and other reputable research centers around the world to develop formulations and dosing protocols and to run clinical human trials to create better medicines. They have been able to treat 500 patients in just the last one and half years and the survival stories are amazing – some patients have gone from terminal to cancer free in 90 days. They have seen success with sever pain, war veterans PTSD, epileptic seizures, and even autism. Survival can’t be denied, it is real, true medicine. CannaKids is continuing to fund cancer research – including an exclusive partnership with Dr. David Meiri at the Laboratory of Cancer and a partnership with the Biology and Cannabinoid Research section at the Technicon – Israel Institute of Technology. Technion is the only University performing clinical studies based on Cannabinoid research and investigating the theraputic potential of cannabinoids for adults, kids, and cancer.

Lau Ola and CannaKids are partnering to bring their researched formulations to Hawaii, formulations that will truly work for patients and to customize treatments based on sharing data between CannaKids, Lau Ola, and Technion Israel Institue of Technology. This will allow them to provide customized medicines for patients. Lau Ola and CannaKids are partnering to empower true medical professionals, real hospitals, and leading scientific teams to create real medicines.

New Era in Testing Standards

Tracy also spoke about a new era in testing standards. Lau Ola is creating a state-of-the-art facility, based on work done in Oregon, that will lead the way in implementing some of the strictest testing standards in the country. Many labs on the mainland have already implemented new equipment to meet these standards. Chiefly because, as Steep Hill Labs recently found, 84% of samples they tested had traces of pesticides. This is important because pesticides can change when they are heated (for instance when cannabis is smoked or vaped). For instance, Myclobutanil – a general use pesticide – converts to hydrogen cyanide when heated and is a banned substance under the Chemical Weapons Convention because of its toxicity. High levels of Myclobutanil were found by Steep Hill in samples across California (Steep Hill tests ~60% of all Cannabis in California). So Lau Ola is working to follow the strictest standards to protect its patients.

Cultivation Facility

Autumn Karcey, President of Cultivo, Inc, an enclosed agriculture facility design and engineering firm working with Lau Ola, discussed how the growing facility was being built with a purpose – to protect against the rain and local environmental conditions that could contaminate the product. Lau Ola is engineering for the environment and developing a state of the art facility – complete with clean room technology – where they will grow the highest quality cannabis, with the highest testing standards. The facility will scale to demand, will not use any pesticides, and will not seek to be exempt from Act 203.

Pharmacy Model

Jaclyn Moore, Lau Ola’s pharmacy lead, spoke about Lau Ola’s focus on the patient. There will be dispensing locations on both the East and West side of the island to facilitate patient access. At both locations, certified pharmacists will be available to provide ongoing, comprehensive counseling services to patients. Lau Ola will address two key issues:

  1. Patient Safety – Dedicated pharmacists providing comprehensive and repeating medication counseling will provide patients with information about drug interactions and help create personalized medicine plans.
  2. Product Safety – The Facilites will all be protected by Black Hawk Security/Green Hawk Security– the employees, the patients, the facilities, the vehicles, and the products will be monitored, tracked, and secure.

Obstacles and Challenges

Finally, Mr. Ha addressed the challenges and concerns Lau Ola is facing that might be common to the dispensaries in general.

  1. Banking – Still an issue
  2. Lab standards/Lab Certification – They are going to plant and grow, but without finalized standards, active labs, and preliminary testing capability they will not sure if it will pass until after the process is complete – risking the whole crop
  3. Medical Cannabis Education for Healthcare Professionals – Maybe JABSOM could do it?

Lau Ola can be contacted at:

Lau Ola LLC
PO Box 107
Pepe’ekeo, HI 96783

Questions from the Committee

Q. Sen. Baker – Regarding pesticide residue – in the context of smoking, I’ve been involved in preventing smoking. Smoking is not viable for children, can you share about dosing and other applications or injection methods for children?

A. Tracy Ryan – Smoking is not going to be good for actual cancer medicine. Pesticides are a problem whenever there is any change in chemical composition. When we (CannaKids) provide medicine – we have to do a CO2 extraction – pressurization, not ethanol extraction where it is heated. The issue is pesticides at any level are not good for patients. Oral and sublingual are the most effective delivery is the most effective for cancer. Oils infused with cannabis oil. Topicals, rectals, nasal spray are useful, but they all require a heating process to turn THCa to THC. So the focus should be on appropriate lab standards to protect from pesticides, not delivery methods.

Q. Rep. Au Belatti – From your presentation – Lau Ola will have a closed loop system, but will you still use pesticides?

A. Autumn Karcey – It will be closed-loop, so no pesticides except in case of emergency or containment breach, and then only safe ones.

Q. Rep. Au Belatti – What kind of pesticides are safe?

A. Autumn Karcey – Essential oils and other safe facilities. But should not be needed, some of our other facilities have operated for at least 7 years without a single pesticide use, so it can be done.

Q. Vaping is it good for delivering a specific dose?

A. Tracy Ryan – Yes, for specific ailments – anxiety, PTSD, and severe pain. There are good indications in combination with deeper uses – the patient needs the immediate relief in combination with the deeper relief – what is called the “entourage effect”. But cancer, epilepsy, etc. need oils. For PTSD, anxiety, and severe pain – vape + oils are most effective.

Q. What about for symptoms related to hospitalization – nausea and loss of appetite?

A. Tracy Ryan. The results are not great for nausea and other symptoms, but indirect smoke can work. The best way however was just a 5 milligram dose – a micro-dose alleviates vomiting and lack of appetite because the chemicals work when you are coming down, not on the getting high. So we are working on approaches that are more effective than smoke. Sublingual hits faster anyway, especially in a micro-dose for these ailments.

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – How soon until you open for dispensing? Do you have cultivation approval?

A. Richard Ha – It looks like October, it might be a while still.

Q. Rep. Au Belatti – Why such a long time?

A. Richard Ha – We farmers are used to operating on tiny margins, so we take a long time to figure something out and how we want to do it so we can do it right.

A. Autumn Karcey – We are building from scratch, not retrofitting a building, so we have to go through the entire agriculture building permitting process – for instance the grading permit takes three months, it take time.

Q. John Paul Bingham – So you are not building yet?

A. Autumn Karcey – Not yet, we will begin grading next month.

Q. John Paul Bingham – How much space are you building for 3,000 plants?

A. Autumn Karcey – 10,000 square feet.

Q. Carl Bergquist – I appreciate your pharmacy emphasis, how does that work?

A. Jaclyn Moore – We are focused on patient safety and avoiding product diversion. Pharmacists are experts at this. So we are applying traditional pharmacist skills to cannabis. We will also be providing comprehensive counseling – using partner information from Israel. When talking about diversion, it is all about record keeping which pharmacists are familiar with and our processes will go above and beyond.

A. Tracy Ryan – At CannaKids we have over 23 training videos for dispensary workers and patients and we will be expanding them to cannabis interactions with other drugs. We are also working on CME courses – first via licensing, and then by developing our own and making that into an acceptable training program.

Q. Rep. Au Belatti – The working group is looking at recommendations – 10,000 sq ft for cultivation canopy – are you finding that jurisdictions are moving to canopy cover not plant count in their regulations?

A. Autumn Karcey – Different state have different populations, but canopy square footage is a better way to calculate – you need a certain square footage per patient. Plant counts might not work practically for the industry, you lose efficiencies with plant count – it eliminates the use of the sea of green and other mediums.

Q. Rep. Au Belatti – We are excited about Lau Ola, CannaKids, and Technion working together, how does that play out for Hawaii? We have Doctors and kids here, is there anyway to help local clinical researchers be involved?

A. Tracy Ryan – Absolutely – We want to do as many trials for as many indications as possible. We are raising more money now for this research. We would love to work with UH and doctors and nurses here in Hawaii to help patients and to become part of our global family. We are currently talking with research partners in LA, Israel, Canada, and neurologists and autism specialists in Israel/ The door is open to do as much or as little as you want. First thing we want is to get established here to help the patients and bring our brands over.

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – Richard, in the past you mentioned something about collaborating with UH School of Pharmacy to use their facilities etc? Is that possible?

A. Richard – We are actively exploring that now and will see how it develops.

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – Tracy have you reached out to the School of Pharmacy?

A. Not yet, but I would absolutely love to and to get them involved.

Q. Sen. Baker – Bringing blends in – given the state of cannabis law at the federal level – what does that mean?

A. Tracy Ryan – Just the recipe and formulations – we will grow and make the products here.

Q. Sen. Baker – You’re not looking to cross plants?

A. Tracy Ryan – We will be crossing plants to create appropriate strains. Our recipes include percentages of terpenes, and other compounds. Those specifics we can recreate in the labs using our own terpene blends and applying the terpene blends to the base strain, extracted via a CO2 process. Not a difficult process. We can import the terpene blends, they are not illegal.

DOH Monthly Update

After the Dispensary Presentation, DOH gave a monthly update on the progress of its Registry and Dispensary departments.

Patient Registry Program

Scottina Ruis: As of December 31, 2016,

  • ~15,334 Patients – turnaround 5 days
  • Still operating on overtime through March
  • 102 physicians, 7 APRN’s have certified a patient
  • Full statistics on website

Dispensary Licensing Program

Keith Ridley:

Feb 1st, we will go live with the state’s computer software tracking system and then licensees will be able to link into the system with their own systems. We have continued implementation training for the Department tomorrow with BioTracTHC, we have training scheduled with the licensees with BioTracTHC, and there will be a short testing period regarding the tracking system – the licensee’s will need to meet various criteria to show their connectiveness and then they will be good to go. If that all works, then will be in a go-live situation.

That is one criteria in providing permission to proceed to the dispensaries to begin growing. Other criteria will need to be met as well.

We have scheduled final inspections with some of the dispensaries – One for Monday, two for the week after February 1st, and no word on the 4th dispensary that is potentially ready for a final inspection. Four of the dispensaries are not ready for their final inspection.

With that inspection, compliance with the results, and the tracking software in place, then DOH will give them a notice to proceed. They will have permission to acquire product and begin cultivation.

As we work towards full operation across the program, we are pursuing many other processes going forward – these are phases, but not necessarily sequential – buckets of activities with additional milestones.

  • Interface between the registry system and marijuana tracking software will allow dispensaries to verify registered patients and enforce sales limitations
  • Laboratories are another milestone. Three have expressed interest, two filed applications. The State Laboratory Division has a leadership role on this, they are reviewing documentation and policies and procedures, how testing will be conducted, and testing equipment. They are going back and forth, but there is lag from the laboratories in responding. Labs will need to have NED certification as well.
  • Throughout this process are regular inspections of the dispensaries as they indicate the are ready or expect to be ready

Questions to DOH

Q. John Paul Bingham – Given that we want consistency in the laboratories – is it part of the discussion where the standards are coming from?

A. Keith Ridley – I can’t answer the technical questions about labs, the lab department will attend the next meeting

Q. Sen. Baker – Would it be better if you had John Paul Bingham and the lab people site down, is that possible?

A. Keith Ridley – Absolutely, in fact, there has been some discussion

Q. Sen. Baker – People ask me about labs doing any individual testing for patients – is that contemplated, do they have capacity, so people growing on their own could test their products?

A. Keith Ridley – It has come up in the discussion, it is a matter of concern for us as well, the statutory authority does not cover it right now. We may need a statute to provide that.

Q. Sen. Baker. Please offer that as an amendment to the medical marijuana omnibus bills..

Q. Greg Yim – We heard from Autumn Karcey that they would not use pesticides, but right now the lab still has to test for thousands of pesticides. Is it possible to work on testing for a workable number of pesticides, not all of them?

A. Keith Ridley – We are going to allow that, and it will depend on the licensee and what we are asking them and what they are doing so we can catalogue what is being used. In terms of the lab process, we will defer to lab the lab department for more details.

Q. Greg Yim – For instance, we use antibiotics, we use 10 or 20, but not thousands, is it possible to see what is used instead of starting from thousands and eliminating them all?

A. Keith Ridley – Sure, I agree.

Q. Michael Takano – Congratulations on your upcoming go live day, thank you very much – regarding the interface with the registry and laboratories, any target dates?

A. We are sending the contract to be signed – it specifies an 8-week delivery for the interface to be ready to the registry program. Regarding the labs, that is hard, they have expressed concern about opening too early, we can’t predict that, it depends on the laboratories plans.

Q. Michael Takano – Similar to the offer of a private discussion with the labs, we would appreciate the opportunity to talk about IT stuff with your department, we have deep expertise we can offer to assist.

A. Keith Ridley – Thanks for the offer.

Q. Carl Bergquist – Following-up on Michaels point – You were cited in the media saying the delay was because this was the first time its been done. So will there be less risk of a delay with the interface?

A. Both parties would not have agreed to the contract if they had any thought that there could be a delay beyond that timeframe.

Q. Carl Bergquist – To Scottina, are their any trends in regards to caregivers and grow sites?

A. Scottina Ruiz – There is a decrease in the % of caregivers – 8% now, used to be 15%. We are seeing more stacking cards (registering the same growsite location). It is difficult for us to police, the law is silent. We don’t know if people are in control of those sites, or if there are other things happening. Other trends regarding cards are pretty consistent – rations, percentages of category, etc… More information in the statistics reported online.

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – Regarding Labs – Does UH have to be certified as a lab, or can they test and research without certification?

A. Keith Ridley – They have to be certified, we didn’t want to give an advantage to state agencies.

A. Paul Bingham – UH is going for a federal DEA license

Q. Michael Takano – Education is a statutory requirement, do you believe given other parts of the industry that you are meeting that?

A. Keith Ridley – We read it as education about the law – and we have been out providing that education about what the law requires to the appropriate parties. But specific clinical, pharmacological, or agricultural education to the licensees or public at large, we have not done that.

Q. Greg Yim – Follow-up – If the vendors don’t come through on the 8-week timeframe for the system interface, is there a back-up plan or will the vendors face consequences for not succeeding?

A. Keith Ridley – We have a lot of eggs in the basket, the interface has to be done, no plan B.

Q. Greg Yim – Would you allow the dispensaries to track that information?

A. Keith Ridley – There are two components to the registry interface. It will allow dispensaries to verify the registration on the system and sales limitations. The system has to be done for verification to be done. If verification is implemented, sales limitations are easy.

Q. Rep. Au Belatti – Are we bound to a single contractor for the interface?

A. Keith Ridley – No. But we have to follow the procurement requirements if we want someone who might take longer. The rules don’t provide flexibility to go outside of HIC without a full procurement process for this job.

Q. Jari Sugano – The law is grey on acquiring plants, we assume cuttings or seeds – that is 3 to 4 months then curing and processing, are there any restriction on starting with full plants.

A. Keith Ridley – No. Dispensaries can start anywhere and we anticipate that. So from the beginning they will want a rolling lifecycle of plants. We will see all levels of plants.

Q. Jari Sugano – So 8 weeks is realistic for flower ready to go at some dispensaries?

A. Keith Ridley – Yes

Subcommittee Reports

After the Update from the Department of Health, the Committee heard from its Subcommittees about their progress.

First Report to the Legislature

Rep. Della Au Belatti began by informing the committee that she is still finalizing the initial report of the working group to the legislature for the 2017 session. The report will only contain the following information:

  • Named Group Members
  • Subcommittee identification
  • The committee’s schedule

A draft will be circulated to the Committee for review prior to the next Committee meeting.

Laboratory Subcommittee

Rep. Della Au Belatti also informed the Working Group that she was working on pulling together a laboratory subcommittee, Ally Park of Clinical Laboratories had been useful, and the subcommittee would reach out to the State Laboratory Division Director to help push it along.

Education Subcommittee – Stacy Kracher, APRN, Chair

Stacy Kracher, a local APRN, is chair of the subcommittee.

The Committee has convened twice so far, with lots of participation from its members.

Key discussion points included:

  • Recommendations to increase funding for education
  • The purpose of the committee and prioritization of educational needs
  • The list of those that need education
  • The statute related to public education. HRS Section 329D-26.
  • Who can do the training – Dispensaries, Hawaii Dispensary Alliance, Drug Policy Forum, New Leaf, Hawaii Cannabis Expo
  • Upcoming CME/CEU trainings scheduled for February at the Hawaii Cannabis Expo
  • Using existing materials created in other jurisdictions so we can bring in the expertise from other places – Colorado has important information, Berkeley has information on contaminations and driving considerations
  • Hawaii needs new training at the hospitals, maybe using the grand round
  • Olelo and other forums could be used
  • Hawaii needs more education providers
  • Hawaii could use education about cannabis role in opiate use and control

The subcommittee will likely hear from guest speakers in the coming months to address many of these issues.

Q. Susan Chandler – I’m getting emails about training sessions – may I put them on the website?

A. Stacy Kracher – Absolutely. Please do.

Products Subcommittee, Michael Takano, Pono Life Sciences, Chair chair

Michael Takano presented the Product Subcommittee’s Draft Report

The existing law is a good start, but a few categories need tweaks:

  • “manufactured medical marijuana products” – The current definition left patients to fend for themselves so they created their own products. But the definition doesn’t cover those products and they will have no testing or labeling, etc…
  • There are important economic considerations for the dispensaries that can be addressed through definition changes, for instance, transdermal patches should be called transdermal devices – things that allow for intradermal delivery. It is a wider and more appropriate term covering a greater range of delivery systems.
  • Paraphernalia – The current law is confusing, limiting, and risky – it imposes felonies and does not allow dispensaries to create an end solution for the patient. It would be good to discuss reprioritization of paraphernalia. There is evidence of vaporization being safe – if patients are forced to fend for themselves, then they risk of felonies and bad medicine
  • DOH needs to establish the process for reviewing and approving new products. Or we can start with statutes and legislation to solve the same issues.
  • Regarding advertising – patients need education, if the dispensaries can’t advertise, but the unlicensed, ancillary vendors can, this limits the ability of dispensaries to educate patients. In the pharma industry the product entries have advertising with a balanced and fair approach to warnings and considerations. We need the dispensaries to be able to establish communications with the industry.

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – I am quite aware of the limitation of the current paraphernalia law? Did you look at the bill I submitted last session?

A. Michael Takano – No.

A. Rep. San Buenaventura – Look at that bill, would it help, should I reintroduce it?

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – Can you give me an example of advertising that would be comparative. Example the Hawaii Cannabis Expo does their own advertising, they were going to have awards for the highest THC products, but they curbed that the week before the first expo so it did not happen. This type of thing puts the industry in jeopardy. That is an example of something illegal. What would be legal advertising by ancillary businesses?

A. Michael Takano – Vape shops currently advertise vape pens and imply they are for marijuana use

A. Sen. Baker – That is illegal, but how do we enforce it?

A. Christopher Garth – Restrictions on branding possibly.

Q. Rep. Au Bellatti – Thank you for the report, please finalize and I’ll put it online

Q. Rep. Au Bellati – I think there is some confusion about the Hawaii Revised Statutes and the Hawaii Administrative Rules. The legislature did pass a law to help with paraphernalia regulations, but the regulations remain out of sorts. You may need to recommend a request to DOH to look at their rules interpreting the legislation again.

Q. Michael Takano – Another example where the current law is limiting dispensaries – outside vendors can establish IP around the dispensary program without actually licensed dispensaries marketing. The dispensaries cannot advertise their own products and developments. Third-party people can, but that’s not fair.

A. Sen. Baker – There is a difference between e-cigarette shops and what dispensaries do. That is where the focus needs to be. There needs to be some definition to protect the dispensaries and encourage the appropriate dissemination of information. If there is a small number of dispensaries – then the place to advertise is in the dispensary. That is an ok place, if dispensaries are looking at something broader, that needs to be a larger conversation. Whether this session or not, we can’t solve everything right now, we need to make sure we get the basic program up and running so that people can access product and do it in a legal way. I am advising colleagues to be cautious about widespread changes that might give DOH and HIC reason to slow the current process down. We should take these things and work through them and lower the expectation for what comes out of this particular session until we get experience with what we currently have.

Q. Rep. San Buenaventura – I don’t think Act 230 prevents informational type packets. If patients come in, you can give them informational sheets with information on the products. That would be proper advertisement – information.

A. Takano – Is that only for the patient in the dispensary or for prospective patients?

A. Rep. Au Belatti – The Legislature hears the conce

Patients Subcommittee, Carl Bergquist, Drug Policy Forum, Chair

Carl Bergquist presented the subcommittee’s progress.

The issues the Working Group has been discussing all touch on patient concerns, for instance pesticides add to costs and thus patient pricing. To Senator Baker’s point, it informs what we are doing on the patients subcommittee. We will take a look at the bills introduced this session and give recommendations – looking to safety, it needs to be at the forefront, we can’t compromise on safety.

Other issues to address include:

  • Interisland transport
  • Access to dispensaries for people who aren’t patients and dispensary workers
  • Protection from employment discrimination

We will file a written report in the coming weeks

Q. Susan Chandler – Process question:  Are the subcommittees coming up with recommendations for this session?

A. Rep. Au Belatti – No, our work is to recommend for next session, we don’t have to comment on this current session. The focus of this group is recommendations for next year. Things may happen at federal and state levels, so will have to be flexible.

A. Sen. Baker – This does not preclude the members of the working group from testifying to the working group about current bills and their importance. You can track bills on, and submit testimony. Make yourself familiar, it is a great tool. Public access room on the 4th floor as well.

Public Input

The floor was then opened for public comments.

Q: Dana Ciccone, CEO of Steep Hill Hawaii – We’ve been researching pesticides a lot at Steep Hill, over ten years of testing. We are certified by NED, so we can now order samples from the mainland. We are capable of testing for MMJ compliant cardholders. Patients want to test their products, for people that are sick, they want to know what they are growing, what is working for their family member, we need a legislation to change to let us. We are capable and ready to work with the dispensaries from preliminary testing onwards. We would love to be on the subcommittee to help answer questions about what we’ve been working on regarding the lab.

Q. Lau Ola, LLC – Branding, there is always a brand, anytime you imbibe something. Not sure why there is no branding allowed, but it will be troublesome down the road for the entire industry. If a patient comes in with a brand and specific cannabis profile, they need to get the same thing by the same vendor every time. This is hard to do if dispensaries can’t brand their own products. If they can’t brand, then there will be no vendor products spread across the dispensaries. Patients need consistent products that are trusted, verified, and consistent.

Q. Teri Heede, Patient Advocate – Testing for patients is essential. Delays are fine for well people. Half of the people on my mailing list are dead now. We need patient testing and patient plant count limits raised. There are no new caregivers because they are discouraged by statute.

Q. Michael Rollins – Pharmlabs Hawaii – I am happy to offer my services regarding laboratory issues. We were the first lab to turn in application. We’ve been through 3 full reviews, will submit for 4th on Monday. Then DOH can come inspect the facility – we are completely installed and ISO certified as of two weeks ago. NED inspection is scheduled for the next two weeks, so we can work with samples. NED needs money to come to our island. Testing for patients is vital. Hawaii is unique – lots of grad students. Allowing UH to research is good to develop medicines that are smokeless and create good medicines that take advantage of the entourage effect. Lau Ola mentioned blended terpenes, our lab can do it, it creates better and safer medicine, and would be good to offer to patients. Financing – we’ve spent lots of money, but we are stalled like everyone else, we are paying lots of money. We filed for everything – chemical and microbiology side, other labs may only file for one side or the other, but we can only provide lab services on other islands if no functioning labs exist on those islands. I don’t want to be pushed out of a community I’ve invested in once other another lab on that island is built and takes over under the statute. Hopefully that can be rewritten.

Q. Tai Cheng, Aloha Green – The eight licensees would like to announce their creation of a new association, the Hawaii Educational Association for Licensed Therapeutic Healthcare (HEALTH), an association aimed at streamlining communication between the dispensaries, government, and Department of Health. There will be just one point person in light of the challenges we have faced so far. We want to solve issues for all 8 licensees. We want to get things up and running. Licensees can’t bear a few more months of non-operation. Kerry Komatsubara, attorney, is the first Executive Director, born and raised in Hawaii and formerly Chair of the State of Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Q. Kerry Komatsubara – I am looking forward to getting involved in the discussion. Lots of issues, lots of work to be done, best way is to work together. The working group is a good idea, everyone understands its a work in progress which means working together. I’m grateful and looking forward to moving forward. We are optimistic, not just about us, its about the patients. My Dad had cancer, died 6 years ago, but before he passed, he was in pain, he thought maybe he could try marijuana? I said, I don’t know, we’ll see. He was a leader. His greatest fear about needing marijuana was “am I jeopardizing my son;s law license.” I knew what I had to do, but his mind was on jeopardizing his son, forcing me to get the medicine from a drug dealer. That is why I took this job. I’m 62, kids are away, my wife thinks I’m nuts, my mother is a retired school teacher, but they all support me doing this job. My mother wasn’t sure at first, she’s an old retired teacher, then she thought about my dad, and said I should do this job. It is not easy, but I’m grateful the legislature understands the predicaments that patients and their families are in. I’m glad I’m doing this, I applaud the legislature and keep my fingers crossed.

Q. Paul Klink, Honolulu Wellness Center – our Facebook page has 7,000 local members. The #1 question, is autism going to be added to the list of ailments? Right now you need a card to get in to the dispensary for security reasons. One patients, his biggest wish, his wife didn’t want to be a caregiver, but isn’t allowed to help her husband through the door of a dispensary. Thank you for the work of the Committee. I’ll see you all on February 10, 11, 12th at the Hawaii Cannabis Expo.

Q. Carl Bergquist, Drug Policy Forum – Are you trying to add autism as a qualifying condition via the DOH process?

A. Paul – Maybe?

Q. Jari Sugano, Guardian of a patient under 18 years of age – Quick clarification, on February 1st, cultivation may begin. For sales to happen though, we still need BioTrackTHC tracking interfaced with the registry system. The labs have to certified – both DOH and NED. All of this before sales even start?

A. Keith Ridley – There will be no sales without laboratories.

Q. Patient in the audience – I need medicine or else I will have to burn my nerves. When is it coming? I have 4 patients who are family members all use medical marijuana to survive. I see Carl, that gives me hope. One more extension, one more “lets push out the deadline and I’m in trouble. I have a background in IT, it should not take this long. I’m on the verge of tears sitting through this meeting, so much pain. Please fix it, please make it happen.

Next Steps and Announcements

Announcement: To get on the email list, go to to get all updates also on the website.

Next Meeting: Sometime in the week of February 23 – March 1 (legislative recess). We will collapse the Feb-March meetings into one.

April meeting: The meeting in April will be during the legislative recess on April 12th – where we will here from Pono Life Sciences. We are considering hosting the meeting on Maui. We would make remote access available.



2016-10-12-leg-oversight-committee-2Now it is your turn! The Alliance has a role on the Committee and access to each of the subcommittees – Products, Education, Patients, and Laboratories. We need your thoughts, comments, and detailed considerations for any and all of these committee priorities that you would like to see action or deliberation on. What did we miss? What do you think we should emphasize? The Legislative Oversight Committee will generate the successful legislative and administrative progress the industry needs in the coming years, and this is your opportunity to guide our hand.

We want to know what you think! Email us at if you have any suggestions or comments, find us on Facebook, Contact Us through this website, or give us a call anytime. You are invited to be as broad or specific with your submissions as possible.

Mahalo nui for your continued support as we build a better future for Hawai‘i’s legitimate cannabis industry!

It is the Alliance’s mission to provide up-to-date and relevant industry information to the patients, dispensary applicants, and related businesses of Hawai‘i’s growing medicinal cannabis industry. If you are not yet an Alliance member, join today to receive the HDA Industry Update every month and to take an active role in the future of Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana industry. Contact us today and we will send you the September/October 2016 edition of the HDA Industry Update absolutely free to say thank you for your interest!


Legislative Oversight Committee – January Meeting Update