What led to hemp shop arrests in Hawaii?

What led to hemp shop arrests in Hawaii?



After police searched a hemp shop with locations in Honolulu and Waikiki this June, two people were arrested on drug-related counts, reports Honolulu station KHON 2.


The Hawaii Department of Health said the individuals were suspected of “promoting a harmful drug in the second degree.” One faced potential an additional of “promoting a detrimental drug in the second degree.”


However, both were released pending further investigation.


The health department had received two reports of illness caused by items from the store, Pinky’s Hempire. The reports appear to have spurred a surveillance effort that led to the eventual charges.



The health department had received two reports of illness caused by items from the store, Pinky’s Hempire.


Former employees of the Waikiki location had also voiced concerns about products at the shop, telling Hawaii News Now weeks before the arrests that a teen had been hospitalized after eating a THC edible from the store. The employees added that they’d sampled products made by the owner’s wife that made them sick, and said they’d reported safety concerns to the state in April.


The owner of Pinky’s Hempire told Hawaii News Now in early June that he was running a legitimate business and the accusations were an attack by disgruntled workers.



The owner of Pinky’s Hempire told Hawaii News Now in early June that he was running a legitimate business and the accusations were an attack by disgruntled workers.


However, the news outlet independently tested products from the shop, reporting June 8 that multiple edibles contained “potentially dangerous levels” of THC.


“All but one of the edibles we purchased were more potent than what’s being sold at the state’s licensed medical marijuana dispensaries,” investigative reporter Allyson Blair wrote for HNN.


The store had labeled the products as delta-8 THC edibles. Delta-8 can be made from hemp-derived CBD and in many places is technically legal because hemp laws restrict only the most well-known form of THC, delta-9.


However, according to Hawaii News Now, the products from Pinky’s also contained high levels of delta-9, which remains illegal in Hawaii.


“A strawberry 'Rice Kripyz Treat' purchased from Pinky’s contained 12 times more Delta-9 THC than what’s allowed to be sold at a licensed medical marijuana dispensary,” Blair wrote.

Additionally, the news agency reported , most foods made with hemp extracts aren’t allowed to be sold in Hawaii.

Based on reports from Hawaii News Now, the owner of Pinky's Hempire was not one of the two people arrested June 24.


In the surveillance operation that led to the arrests, Hawaii law enforcement partnered with the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was a rare move for the FDA, which typically sends warning letters to businesses it believes are violating food and drug laws.



In the surveillance operation that led to the arrests, Hawaii law enforcement partnered with the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was a rare move for the FDA, which typically sends warning letters to businesses it believes are violating food and drug laws.


FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs tweeted news of the arrests, adding that the Office of Regulatory Affairs and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture “surveilled retail shops in Hawaii’s Chinatown, including a #CBD dispensary.”

“This type of operation is unique and is an example of our efforts to expand partnership opportunities with the states in areas of mutual public health and law enforcement priorities,” an FDA spokesperson told Marijuana Moment. “The FDA is committed to partnering with states and have entered into a formal partnership agreement with the state of Hawai’i to coordinate efforts in support of our shared public health missions.”