Summer pot sales? Permit holdups delay Hawaiian Ethos opening as Lau Ola plans for July launch

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Lau Ola head Richard Ha said construction on Lau Olaճ growing facility in Pepeekeo continues apace, with the structure to be completed and growing to begin in April.
  • Photo courtesy of Island Media Solutions LLC An aerial view shows the construction progress of Lau Ola's facility in Pepeekeo.

The opening of a Big Island medical marijuana dispensary has been delayed.

Hawaiian Ethos postponed the opening of its Kailua-Kona dispensary from February to an undetermined date this summer, said Zachary Taffany, Hawaiian Ethos’ chief operating officer.


According to Ethos’ community relations director Kea Keolanui, the delay primarily is due to longer-than-expected building permit approvals. Regulatory departments are “overwhelmed during a time of increased construction in Hawaii County” and are taking longer to approve Ethos’ construction permits.

However, Keolanui said Ethos will open a second dispensary in Hilo shortly after its Kona location begins operations.

Meanwhile, another medical marijuana company, Lau Ola, plans to open its Hilo dispensary in July.

Lau Ola Chief Executive Officer Richard Ha said construction on Lau Ola’s growing facility in Pepeekeo continues, with the structure to be completed and growing to begin in April.

“The shell of the structure is up now,” Ha said.

Last year, the opening of the Lau Ola dispensary was delayed when the company scrapped plans to convert Ha’s former banana packing location into the growing facility, he said.

Lau Ola also has leased a site on Leilani Street in Hilo for the company’s dispensary retail location, which also will open in July, Ha said.

In the meantime, Lau Ola and Hawaiian Ethos are supporting recently introduced bills in the state Legislature that will, if passed, broaden the scope of business dispensaries can carry out in the state.

Ha and Keolanui said they are in support of House Bill 2729, a lengthy bill which, if passed, would implement a wide-ranging list of changes to the state’s dispensary system.

In particular, Ha said the bill would amend the state’s reciprocity protocol wherein out-of-state medical marijuana patients can have their certification recognized in Hawaii.

The proposed changes to reciprocity would require certain confirmation measures for out-of-state visitors, including photo identification and a certification fee.

In addition, the bill also would allow dispensaries to sell marijuana vapes and related products, which Ha said would be more popular among senior customers.


Keolanui said Ethos also is in support of House Bill 2733, which would enact similar reciprocity- and vape-related laws, but would also no longer require dispensaries to conduct background checks on employees who do not handle marijuana products.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

  1. PUNATIC February 11, 2018 9:44 am

    a lot of foot dragging…..I knew we had the wrong people picked for the Big Island!

  2. Hilo Jack February 11, 2018 10:02 am

    Imagine the outcry if this was a liquor store trying to open.

  3. blunt TrUth February 11, 2018 9:16 pm

    need weed? sprout seed . heed greed, get freed.

  4. Beth Ann Shropshire February 12, 2018 9:10 am

    Hawaii ranked 49th worst state for business endeavors …says it all…we sould applaud the perseverance of the Lau Ola and Hawaiian Ethos for pushing on to bring this medicine to the people of Hawaii…

    1. blunt TrUth February 12, 2018 9:55 am

      whatever, that medicine has been here for decades without these greedy dipshits.

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