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By KIRSTEN JOHNSON Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Fourteen Hawaii County Dispensary Applicants are vying to open the first medical marijuana dispensaries on Hawaii Island, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Health.

Seven of the dispensary applicants listed in the state’s business registry have Hawaii Island mailing addresses, and five have Oahu addresses. Two applicants have mainland mailing addresses — one in Sun City, Ariz., and the other in Chicago.

Among the Big Island applicants are longtime banana farmer Richard Ha and Hilo Realtor Hank Correa.

Correa declined to comment Friday, citing illness, but was surprised to hear the state’s applicant list was public.

Ha said he decided to apply for a license after announcing in January that he would be closing his Pepeekeo banana farm.

“I am an applicant because I know about growing,” he said late Friday.

If awarded a license, Ha said he will offer his former workers jobs at the dispensary, which would be an enclosed facility with a number of security measures, including video cameras.

Ha said he already has met with the farm’s neighbors to hear their concerns and discuss security. He said he wants the community to be comfortable with his plans.

He said he thinks a dispensary can be profitable, but said he’s personally “not into marijuana.”

“I’m not in it for the general (or recreational) use for everybody,” he said. “I’m really specifically doing it for the medical uses.”

Ha said the Big Island could become a leader in medical marijuana research, thanks of the proximity to the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.

The state received 66 applications statewide, which included actor Woody Harrelson, who applied for a license in Honolulu County. Several candidates applied for licenses in more than one county.

Andrea Tischler, chairwoman of the Big Island chapter of Americans for Safe Access, was shocked Friday to hear of the high number of applicants, given the hefty price to apply.

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