By Steve Elliott
The Hawaii Department of Health doesn't plan any public hearings for comments on rules governing the state's new medical marijuana dispensary system before releasing draft rules on January 4, 2016.
Entrepreneurs will have only a few days to review the rules before applying, between January 11 and January 29, for eight highly sought licenses to grow and sell medicinal cannabis, reports Anita Hofschvneider at Honolulu Civil Beat.
Hawaii's recently enacted state law establishing the dispensary system exempts the health department from seeking public input, because legislators in July decided they want to establish a medical marijuana system by July 16, 2016, public commend be damned.
“We’re taking full advantage of that exemption so that we can spend the time to get the necessary rules done,” Health Department official Keith Ridley told legislators during a briefing Thursday at the Hawaii State Capitol.
The Department of Health is struggling with a backlog of 1,000 applications for the medical marijuana authorizations. It is still hiring to run the dispensary program, and still hasn't decided how much information about the applications it will make available to the public.
Ridley said the health department doesn't plan to release the names of any applicants for licenses until it selects the licensees on April 15, 2016, "because it may frustrate the state's process of determining the licensees."