- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2016

Actor Woody Harrelson’s plans for opening up one of Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensaries have officially gone up in smoke. The state’s Department of Health on Friday announced the names of eight businesses selected to start growing and selling pot for patients, but it declined to include the “Cheers” star’s company, Simple Organic Living LLC.

The Oscar-nominated actor filed paperwork back in January in hopes of being granted one of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary licenses. A four-member panel of the Health Department reviewed more than 60 applications from would-be pot shop owners before announcing its determination on Friday, but it ultimately declined to offer a license to Mr. Harrelson.

Although Hawaii became the first state in the country to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients in 2000, laws allowing for the establishment of medicinal dispensaries weren’t put on the books until Democratic Gov. David Ige signed HB 321 in July 2015. His signature gave the Health Department the go-ahead to grant licenses to eight dispensaries between Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, the likes of which were announced late last week.

Aloha Green Holdings Inc., Manoa Botanicals and TCG Retro Market 1 were approved to open dispensaries on Oahu; Hawaiian Ethos and Lau Ola were chosen for the Big Island; Maui Wellness Group and Pono Life Sciences Maui were granted licenses to operate on Maui; and Green Aloha was given the go-ahead to operate in Kauai, The Associated Press reported. Those businesses can open dispensaries as soon as July 15.

“It’s a feeling of huge responsibility and potential for doing good, so it’s lots of emotions,” Richard Ha of Lau Ola told AP. “We’re really happy to participate in this, but we got to do this right, and we fully intend to do that.”

In its announcement, the Department of Health did not explain why dozens of other companies, including Mr. Harrelson’s, were declined. Under HB 321, however, the agency can begin issuing more licenses as needed starting next year.

Mr. Harrelson, 54, has publicly advocated for marijuana legalization since the 1990s, and he currently sits on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. He was arrested and charged with a drug misdemeanor in 1996 after he ceremoniously planted four hemp seeds in Kentucky, where state law does not differentiate between marijuana and hemp, but was he ultimately acquitted.

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