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A handful of medical cannabis companies in Hawaii are selling and delivering wholesale flower and other marijuana products from one island to another, a first for the state and a rare sales route anywhere in the U.S.
Island hopping by plane, helicopter or boat is common for visitors and residents traversing the region, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that encompasses a land area totaling more than
And now the state’s medical marijuana industry is hopping aboard to expand product offerings to thousands of MMJ patients.
Industry operators are reluctant to share details about how they are transporting product from one island to the next, given potential legal issues, among other reasons.
Traveling from one island to another requires crossing federal waters. And marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
But Hawaii legislators recently gave their blessing.
In June, lawmakers approved legislation allowing state-licensed companies to sell wholesale marijuana to cannabis businesses, including those located on other islands. The regulations took effect in August.
The new inter-island cannabis commerce is being celebrated, at least in some industry circles, for setting a precedent.
In Hawaii’s fledgling medical cannabis market, it’s also a sign of an underlying issue – namely, product inventory shortages, which remain prevalent six years after MMJ sales began.
These shortfalls, a consequence of location and operating in one of the nation’s more limited-license markets ultimately led to the new regulations allowing state-licensed cannabis companies to sell wholesale flower and other products, including vape cartridges and pens, to marijuana retailers on other islands.
In response, companies such as Big Island Grown and a few other suppliers are taking the plunge.
New channels for commerce
Big Island Grown, which has a 35,000-square-foot indoor cultivation operation on Hawaii Island, completed the state’s first wholesale inter-island transaction on Sept. 1 with Green Aloha dispensary on Kauai.
Within nine days, Big Island Grown’s flower sold out at Green Aloha’s dispensaries in Kapaa and Koloa, helping the retailer boost gross revenue 40% month-over-month, Big Island Grown CEO Jaclyn Moore told MJBizDaily.
Green Aloha and several other state-licensed operators did not respond to MJBizDaily inquiries for this story.
As the state’s only licensed hydrocarbon extractor, Big Island Grown also demonstrated a patient need for gummies, live resin vape pens and other concentrates, gaining necessary approvals from the Hawaii State Department of Health to distribute them wholesale to retailers, according to Moore.
“We are able to demonstrate a need because they’re missing in some of these other markets on other islands,” she said.
“We’ve been able to help build out the availability of multiple product SKUs (stock-keeping units) in that category.”
Since inking inter-island agreements, Big Island Grown now supplies about a third of all weighted cannabis products in the market, according to Moore.
She declined to discuss specifics related to product transportation or logistics, citing the sensitive nature of the issue as well as worker safety.
Island-hopper planes and commercial flights are common forms of transportation in Hawaii, with trips less than an hour to its neighboring islands.
Private charter and commercial boats are also an option.