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State tourism board refuses UFC’s $6M offer for Hawaii event
HONOLULU — The Hawaii Tourism Authority has refused the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s $6 million offer to bring an event to the islands, shuttering communication between the two parties that were in talks to host a UFC card starring Hawaii fighter Max Holloway.
UFC President Dana White said on Wednesday that he had no intention of holding a card in Hawaii “anytime soon” after the authority’s refusal.
“Hawaii was happening this year, and it got shut down by the tourism board there,” White said. “We were geared up and ready to go there this year.”
The $6 million proposal would have been the most Hawaii ever paid to host a sports event, topping the $5.2 million deal the authority worked out with the National Football League for the 2016 Pro Bowl.
Holloway, who is 19-3, has asked White and the UFC for more than a year to bring a card to Hawaii. Discussions about a proposed Aug. 4 event picked up steam on Jan. 23 when a five-member delegation representing the authority and Aloha Stadium met with UFC officials at the group’s Las Vegas headquarters.
The $6 million offer was made at that meeting, which was countered with a $1 million offer, the authority said.
“The $6 million price tag, we just couldn’t afford . I mean, that’s not the kind of money that we have,” said Leslie Dance, HTA vice president of marketing and product development. “Whether we’ve paid that for the Pro Bowl or not . that’s what they compared it to. I think that’s where they came up with that number. It’s not the type of money we have in our current budget to fund it, but we really did want to make it work.”
The $1 million the authority said it offered the UFC still would have been “the largest fee paid by the HTA for any single sports event in 2018.”
Guam medical pot program at standstill without a testing lab
HAGATNA, Guam — No one has applied for a license to set up an independent testing laboratory nearly two months after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed a bill implementing the rules for a medical marijuana program, a Guam official said.
The marijuana program, approved by voters in 2014, can’t start without a testing lab, the Pacific Daily News reported . Department of Public Health and Social Services Acting Director Leo Casil said on Thursday that the program is at “a standstill.”
Casil said Public Health still estimates that the startup cost for a testing lab is $1 million.
Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, who wrote the medical marijuana rules and regulations bill that became law, said the lack of testing lab applicants could be attributed to a lack of regulations. His bill adopted the rules and regulations rewritten by the Department of Public Health, and also opened up the program to non-residents in order to increase the pool of potential patients and make it more financially viable.
“I was hoping Public Health would be more pro-active rather than just waiting for an applicant,” Rodriguez said.
He said the Department of Public Health can also reach out to entities such as the University of Guam’s Marine Laboratory to do the independent testing.
Voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana on the island for debilitating medical conditions such as epilepsy, HIV, cancer and glaucoma.
The law requires all medical cannabis, prepared medical cannabis and medical cannabis products on Guam to be tested for potency and safety by an independent medical cannabis testing lab licensed by Public Health before they can be sold to a qualified patient or a qualified patient’s primary caregiver.
Although there is no applicant yet to set up a testing lab, Public Health continues to research other areas of the medical marijuana program, Casil said.
Casil said Public Health is challenged by a lack of experts on medical marijuana as well as other resources.
Rodriguez said at this time, it seems unnecessary to appropriate more funds to Public Health for the medical marijuana program.
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