The road to  bringing medical cannabis  to the people of Hawaii has been a long and bumpy one. Though the state legalized the use of the plant for medical purposes back in 2000, dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015. This left people to grow their own or obtain it elsewhere-and that hasn’t changed. Even though dispensaries have been setting up shop since the start of the summer, they can’t actually sell their products yet. This is because there have been no labs to conduct the necessary testing on these products before they make it into consumers’ hands. Honolulu-based lab Steep Hill Hawaii is now here to change that.

After seventeen years, advocates are finally seeing essential progress being made that will increase patients’ accessibility to their medicine.

“This is a big milestone, and it couldn’t have come any sooner, because many people within the industry were getting frustrated and a little angry at the time it has taken to get to this point. But now that we are here, hopefully the next phase in terms of sales will happen quickly and everything will go smoothly,” said state Sen. Will Espero.

Once the lab receives samples to be tested, the process itself takes about four days to test and return to the dispensaries for sale. Steep Hill has been working tirelessly over the past year to bring this market to the people, obtaining the necessary certifications to be able to conduct business. “Today is a big step in the right direction for Hawaii’s Medical Cannabis industry,” said owner of Steep Hill, Dana Ciccone.

Dispensary owners are thrilled to finally be within an arm’s reach of actually opening their doors to the card-carrying public, but the Department of Health has not yet issued a specific size that samples need to be for the purposes of testing. Owners of dispensaries on neighboring islands are concerned about the logistics behind getting their product to the testing facility, but it is worth it to them, and their patients, to overcome this hurdle.