Create a free Cannabis Equipment News account to continue

Care Waialua & PSGX: Legalization Has Not Freed the Cannabis Plant

Last year's raid in Hawaii, problems with legalization and why the plant should be free for all.

Editor's Note: Download the audio version below and click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

This week, Jason Hanley, owner of Care Waialua, and Justin Lehmann from PSGX World join the Cannabis Equipment News podcast from Hawaii to discuss last year's raid on the farm, problems with legalization and why the plant should be free for all. 

Justin Lehmann was raised around cannabis. His dad was a member of the Outlaw motorcycle club, and since he was about eight years old, Lehmann has been around the plant. His father was a truck driver who brought seeds back from Canada, and he taught his son how to grow. 

A former heroin addict, Lehmann had recently graduated from rehab when Illinois legalized adult-use cannabis in January 2020. Lehmann was doing well and had been out of the cannabis seed business for about five years. Old friends and acquaintances started reaching out to Lehmann looking for seeds, and he was pulled back into the business. He founded Prairie State Genetix, now PSGX World, and is a well-regarded and trusted member of the cannabis industry who travels the world to help cultivators with their grows.

Jason Hanley has been growing cannabis since he was 18 years old. In 2015, he founded Care Waialua Farm, a medical cannabis operation on the north shore of Oahu in Mokuleia. With about 20 patients, Hanley was driven by compassion, helping patients access more affordable medicine. 

But Hawaii's cannabis industry is challenging. While it was the first state to legalize medical marijuana law in 2000, nothing came online until 2015, when the government forced the program open.

Lehmann and Hanley's relationship began as part of an online tiff. Lehmann says he was giving Hanley a hard time on social media, but the pair met in person at the Hawaii Cannabis Expo. Hanley invited Lehmann to his farm, where Lehmann says he was exposed to the energy and love emanating from Hanley's heart. He was inspired, and now the pair are working together. 

Business in Hawaii has remained problematic, especially with industry stakeholders actively working to shut Care Waialua down, according to Hanley. For example, on October 23, 2023, Hanley's farm was raided by Homeland Security and other law enforcement. No arrests or charges were ever filed—Hanley was told he wasn't in compliance with state regulations. 

The raid seized plants from 980 patients and Hanley still hasn't been able to get his equipment returned. Still, he re-opened the farm five days later. While his lawyers were against the move, Hanley felt he didn't have a choice. Hanley says closing the farm would be a disservice to his patients. He says fighting against powerful and persuasive politics is hard, yet he fights on. 

According to Hanley, Hawaii is also the most difficult climate to grow in. With 90% humidity every night, it's hard to find strains that can withstand bud rot. While tough, he says the quality and yield make it worthwhile. 

As Hanley hears thousands of industry supporters say it's time to "just legalize it," he notes that no state has gotten legalization right, so he remains opposed to federal legalization. He says the industry is filled with dispensaries that can't make money and growers going out of business. In its current form, the industry isn't working out, so he stresses the importance of advocates being careful as the industry moves forward. 

Lehmann adds that legalization has not freed the plant, and he insists that cannabis should be free for all. 

Jump around: 

  • The state of cannabis in Hawaii. (3:15)
  • How Hanley and Lehmann started working together. (4:05)
  • Hanley's cultivation philosophy. (7:06) 
  • The raid on Care Waialua farm. (7:38) 
  • PSGX World's collaboration with G.O.A.T. Genetics. (13:28)
  • How Care fights bud rot in a humid Hawaiian climate. (17:08)
  • Using Korean natural farming techniques. (18:12)
  • Why Hanley grows in greenhouses under the Hawaiian sun. (23:35)
  • How to fix the Hawaiian cannabis industry. (26:12)
  • Why the medical market in Maine should be the blueprint for medical cannabis legalization. (29:02)
  • The strength of the Hawaiian cannabis community. (31:42)

Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at [email protected].

More in Video