HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii's first medical marijuana dispensaries were allowed to open exactly one year ago today, but the industry has still not been able to get off the ground.

Of the state's eight licensed marijuana growers, six have received state approval to begin growing and at least three have marijuana ready to sell, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2teLFXV ). But the dispensaries haven't opened because the state Department of Health hasn't certified any of the three laboratories that will test the marijuana's potency and purity.

The department states it is still conducting validation studies with the labs and expects to certify them this summer.

"Everyone's trying their best and working their hardest to build this industry, including the Department of Health. However, it has been a year, and it has been financially extremely taxing," said Helen Cho, director of integrated strategy for Aloha Green Holdings Inc., one of the three Oahu dispensaries that are ready to open. "If the delays continue for much longer, this industry may not have a fair chance of flourishing. If this goes on for a few more months, the financial hole that we're in may be too deep for us to recover from."

A medical cannabis legislative oversight committee is scheduled to hear an industry update Wednesday at the state Capitol.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com