Former CEO of Maui Land & Pineapple David Cole’s Maui Wellness Group LLC is among eight companies that have been selected to receive licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana.

Hawaii Department of Health’s Virginia Pressler announced the names of the winners of the highly competitive licenses Friday in a crowded conference room on the third floor of Kinau Hale in downtown Honolulu.

TCG Retro Market 1, LLC, also known as Cure Oahu, won one of three licenses to establish dispensaries on Oahu. The company’s primary investor is Tradewind Capital Group, which is led by Richard Lim, who served as a Cabinet member under former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and Honolulu businessman Colbert Matsumoto, a newly appointed board member for the city’s controversial rail project.

Crowds wait downstairs of Kinau Hale as only media were allowed to the press conference. 29 april 2016
Crowds wait downstairs of Kinau Hale as only media were allowed to the press conference. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Duane Kurisu, who owns PacificBasin Communications, is a member of the board of directors at Tradewind Capital Group. Both Kurisu and Matsumoto are on the board of Oahu Publications Inc., which owns the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Kurisu as an officer at Tradewind Capital Group.

Cure Oahu’s executive director is Tan Yan Chen, a former staff member at the state energy office who worked under Lim when he led the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“We’re really grateful for this opportunity to serve the qualified patients on Oahu,” she said, noting that the company hopes to open dispensaries this fall. She said the dispensaries will be operated by Cure Colorado, which was recently named by the Green Rush Daily as the best dispensary in Colorado.

Local technology consultant Brian Goldstein’s Manoa Botanicals, LLC was also selected to receive a license to open up a dispensary on Oahu.

“We feel grateful and humbled to be selected as one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii,” Goldstein said in a phone interview.

He said the company has raised more than $5 million and is fully funded. He declined to name his team members and investors, but they include Alan Gottlieb, vice president at Ponoholo Ranch Limited and former president of the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council.

Big Island banana farmer Richard Ha, who serves on the state Board of Agriculture’s board, won one of two licenses in Hawaii County.

Cole is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded Hawaii BioEnergy LLC. His partner at Maui Wellness Group LLC is Gregory Park, a physician.

The law firm Alston, Hunt, Floyd & Ing is representing both Manoa Botanicals and Maui Wellness Group, in addition to one of the two companies selected to run dispensaries in Hawaii County: Hawaiian Ethos LLC, which is run by Shelby Floyd, a former partner in the law firm.

The only licensee chosen for Kauai is a company owned by Justin Britt, who leads Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers.

The eight companies were chosen out of 59 that applied for licenses from the state.

Many high-profile applicants did not win, including actor Woody Harrelson and video game entrepreneur Henk Rogers.

Former Mayor Peter Carlisle’s The Wellness Group failed to win a license as well.

Below is the full list of the companies that were selected to receive licenses and their employees or investors according to interviews, the Department of Health, state business registration data:

City and County of Honolulu

  • Aloha Green Holdings, Inc., Thomas Wong, Charles Lee
  • Manoa Botanicals, LLC, Brian Goldstein, Alan Gottlieb
  • TCG Retro Market 1 LLC dba Cure Oahu, Tan Yan Chen, Colbert Matsumoto, Richard Lim, Kent Walther, Scott Kuioka, Dana Tokioka, Franklin Tokioka, Tobias Martyn, Duane Kurisu

Hawaii County

  • Hawaiian Ethos LLC, Shelby Floyd
  • Lau Ola LLC, Richard Ha, Dylan Shropshire

Maui County

  • Maui Wellness Group LLC, Gregory Park, David Cole
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui LLC, William Mitchell, Robert Wong, Michael Takano, Racquel Bueno, William Farley, Darrell Lee, Gregory Wood

Kauai County

  • Green Aloha, Ltd., Justin Britt

“We look forward to improving access to qualified patients so that they have access to a safe product very soon,” Pressler said.

The companies have a week to accept the licenses and pay $75,000 each. Dispensaries will be allowed to open their doors on July 15.

Hawaii legalized medical cannabis 15 years ago, but so far, patients have had to grow their own or rely on a caregiver.

This summer will be the first time patients will be allowed to buy marijuana at stores.

Legal Challenge Ongoing

The company Piko Farms & Nursery sought to derail the announcement by filing a last-minute temporary restraining order Thursday.

“Due to glitches, crashes, and defects in the computers and computer servers of the defendant, and through no fault of the plaintiff, plaintiff’s application for a medical marijuana dispensary license, was somehow not received by defendant, and/or if received, was later lost by defendant,” the company wrote in its complaint.

But a judge ruled against the company and allowed the state to proceed with the announcement.

The company filed an appeal Thursday. Read its complaint below:

This is a developing story. Check Civil Beat later for a full update.

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