A Guide to Hawaiian Cannabis Laws
Is weed legal in Hawaii?
Yes and no. Medical marijuana is legal for patients with a qualifying condition who have state-issued medical marijuana cards and for patients from other states with valid medical marijuana cards from their home jurisdiction. Cannabis for adult-use, or recreational, purposes remains illegal in Hawaii.
Hawaii has decriminalized possession of 3 grams of cannabis, making it punishable by a fine of $130.
- In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana via legislation when SB 862 became Act 228. The law amended Chapter 329 of Hawaii’s Revised Statutes and set limits for cultivation, listed qualifying conditions, and offered protection against prosecution for patients, caregivers, and recommending physicians. It also called for the creation of a registry of patients and caregivers and put the Department of Public Safety in charge of the program.
- Subsequent legislation moved oversight to the Department of Health (DOH), expanded possession limits, added qualifying conditions and a means of petitioning for more, and set up dispensary licensing. Though medical cannabis was legalized in 2000, the state didn’t license any dispensaries until 2018.
- In 2019, Hawaii decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana when it passed HB 1383. A fine of $130 is the only penalty for possessing 3 grams of cannabis or less. Possessing more than that, up to an ounce, carries a penalty of 30 days imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
- HB 1383 also allowed for prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug charges to petition for release to a drug-treatment program and the expungement of the records of those who complete the program. These changes only applied to prisoners convicted of possessing 3 grams or less.
Where is it safe to purchase weed in Hawaii?
- Patients can purchase medical cannabis from state-regulated dispensaries on Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii. Patients and caregivers may not purchase more than 4 ounces (113 grams) of cannabis within a period of 15 consecutive days, or no more than 8 ounces (227 grams) within a period of 30 consecutive days. Patients or caregivers transporting cannabis must keep it in a sealed container out of view. Transporting cannabis between islands is illegal.
Finding licensed dispensaries in Hawaii
- Medical marijuana cardholders can find licensed dispensaries in Hawaii and search by island, including Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii. Many dispensaries in Hawaii offer online ordering in addition to storefront sales. Delivery is not allowed.
Where is it safe to consume cannabis?
- Consumption is only allowed in private. Smoking and vaping medical cannabis is allowed in private areas that aren’t designated a smoke-free location.
- Registered medical cannabis patients and caregivers are permitted up to 4 ounces (113 grams) of usable cannabis between them.
Is home cultivation allowed in Hawaii?
- Registered patients and caregivers can cultivate up to 10 plants if they have registered their intent to grow and provided the cultivation location to the DOH. Plants may only be grown at the home of the patient or caregiver or another site controlled by one of them. Plants must all be in one location and tagged with the patient’s 329 card number and expiration date.
- After Dec. 31, 2023, caregivers will not be allowed to cultivate cannabis for any qualifying patient, except for minors, adults lacking capacity, or on islands that do not have a dispensary.
Medical marijuana in Hawaii
- Patients with a qualifying condition can register with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program and receive a Hawaii 329 card, named for Statute 329, which was revised by the passage of Act 288. The card allows patients and caregivers to purchase cannabis from a dispensary or grow it themselves, and to possess, transport, and consume cannabis. While Hawaii offers reciprocity for out-of-state patients, frequent visitors may want to apply for a Hawaii 329 card since state residency is not required. Out-of-state patients (OSPs) must see a physician or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensed in Hawaii to qualify.
- Beginning in 2024, home cultivation will be illegal unless the patient lives on an island without a dispensary or is a minor or adult unable to grow for themselves. Transporting cannabis between islands is prohibited.
- Patients under the age of 18 or who are unable to procure cannabis on their own can designate a caregiver. Caregivers must be at least 18 years old and residents of Hawaii.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Severe nausea
- Severe pain
- Patients or physicians can petition the DOH to add new conditions.
- See a doctor or APRN for certification
- Register for an online account
- Provide government-issued ID to prove residency and identity
- Designate a caregiver, if applicable, and whether the caregiver will also cultivate
- Submit application online
- Pay $38.50 for a one-year card, $77 for two years (only allowed for certain qualifying conditions)
- Print or save the card once approved
- Patients name caregivers, if needed, on their registry application. The patient’s application fee also covers the caregiver.
- The caregiver must:
- Provide a copy of their valid driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport
- Sign the patient’s application form
- Hawaii allows visitors to the Aloha State with medical marijuana cards or caregiver privileges from other states to participate in the Hawaii Medical Marijuana Program as long as the patient’s medical condition is also on Hawaii’s list of qualifying conditions.
- Patients need to register and show a valid government-issued medical marijuana card and state ID or driver’s license from their home state to obtain a Hawaii 329 Registration card. Their registration will be active for no more than 60 days and no more than two
60-day periods in a calendar year.
- Out-of-state patients may apply 60 days prior to their requested start date. A non- refundable application fee of $49.50 applies. Electronic access to the Hawaii 329 Registration card will be provided upon approval. Patients who visit more than twice a year can apply for an in-state card. The OSP process does not allow for caregivers for adults, only minors.
All cannabis products must be tested for the following:
- active ingredients
- cannabinoid profile (including THC)
- heavy metals
- moisture content
- microbial contaminants
- intestinal bacteria and pathogens
- dangerous molds that can cause infection and disease
- toxins produced by molds
Hemp State Law Authority & Background
- Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 141A to 141J and § 712 (2016)
- Establishes an industrial hemp pilot program overseen by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture
- Allows the Board of Agriculture to certify hemp seeds
Medical Marijuana State Law Authority & Background
- Statutory Language (year) – SB 862 (2000)
- Patient Registry or ID cards – Yes
- Allows Dispensaries – Yes
- Specifies Conditions – Yes
- Recognizes Patients from other states – No
- State Allows for Retail Sales/Adult Use – N/A
Are sales of medical marijuana subject to sales tax?
- No – Hawaii does not have a sales tax; instead, it has a General Excise Tax. See General Excise Tax below.
Is medical marijuana subject to an excise tax?
- Yes. Hawaii’s General Excise Tax applies to sales of medical marijuana. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 237-24.3(6).
Are sales of recreational marijuana subject to sales tax?
Is recreational marijuana subject to an excise tax?
Does the State impose a Stamp Tax or Controlled Substances Tax?
Hawaii Sales Tax Rate
|State Sales Tax||Local Sales Tax Range||Average Local Tax||Average Combined Tax||Max Combined Tax|
|4%||0% – 0.5%||0.431%||4.431%||4.5%|
Advertising and Packaging
- The department shall establish standards regarding the advertising and packaging of cannabis and manufactured cannabis products; provided that the standards, at a minimum, shall require the use of packaging that:
- Is child-resistant and opaque so that the product cannot be seen from outside the packaging;
- Uses only black lettering on a white background with no pictures or graphics;
- Is clearly labeled with the phrase “For medical use only”;
- Is clearly labeled with the phrase “Not for resale or transfer to another person”;
- Includes instructions for use and “use by date”;
- Contains information about the contents and potency of the product;
- Includes the name of the production center where cannabis in the product was produced, including the batch number and date of packaging;
- Includes a barcode generated by tracking software; and
- In the case of a manufactured cannabis product, includes a:
- Listing of the equivalent physical weight of the cannabis used to manufacture the amount of the product that is within the packaging, pursuant to section 329D-9(c);
- Clearly labeled warning stating that the product:
- Is a medication that contains cannabis, and is not a food; and
- Should be kept away from children; and
- Date of manufacture.
- Any capsule, lozenge, or pill containing cannabis or its principal psychoactive constituent tetrahydrocannabinol shall be packaged so that one dose, serving, or single wrapped item contains no more than ten milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol; provided that no manufactured cannabis product that is sold in a pack of multiple doses, servings, or single wrapped items, nor any containers of oils, shall contain more than a total of one thousand milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol per pack or container; provided further that no dispensary shall exceed the dispensing limits imposed by section 329D-7.
- All manufactured cannabis products shall be individually wrapped at the original point of manufacture.
- The department shall be authorized to allow dispensaries to provide, disseminate, and publish educational and scientific materials relating to medical cannabis and its approved products and sponsor events about medical cannabis. [L 2015, c 241, pt of §2; am L 2017, c 170, §2; am L 2018, c 116, §28; am L 2020, c 38, §5]
- Revision Note
- “Marijuana” changed to “cannabis” to conform to L 2017, c 170, pursuant to §23G-15.
Medical cannabis dispensaries; authorized; licensure
- No person shall operate a medical cannabis dispensary unless the person has a license issued by the department pursuant to this chapter.
- The director of health shall grant medical cannabis dispensary licenses to allow dispensaries to produce, manufacture, and dispense cannabis and manufactured cannabis products pursuant to this chapter.
- Each medical cannabis dispensary license shall allow production, manufacture, and dispensing of cannabis and manufactured cannabis products only in the county for which the license is granted.
- The department shall issue eight dispensary licenses statewide; provided that three dispensary licenses shall be issued for the city and county of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each shall be issued for the county of Hawaii and the county of Maui, and one dispensary license shall be issued for the county of Kauai; provided further that no dispensary license shall be issued for the county of Kalawao.
- No person may be granted a dispensary license in more than one county.
- No more than three production centers shall be allowed under each dispensary license; provided that, except as otherwise specified in subsection (k), each production center shall be limited to no more than five thousand cannabis plants. For purposes of this subsection, “plant” means a cannabis plant that is greater than twelve vertical inches in height from where the base of the stalk emerges from the growth medium to the tallest point of the plant, or greater than twelve horizontal inches in width from the end of one branch to the end of another branch; provided that multiple stalks emanating from the same root ball or root system shall be considered part of the same single plant.
- A dispensary licensee may establish up to two retail dispensing locations under the licensee’s dispensary license, except as otherwise specified in subsection (l).
- Each dispensary licensee may commence dispensing medical cannabis and manufactured cannabis products to qualifying patients or primary caregivers no sooner than July 15, 2016, with approval by the department, in accordance with this chapter.
- Retail dispensing locations shall not be at the same location as the dispensary licensee’s production centers.
- Notwithstanding subsection (d), the department shall determine whether, based on the qualifying patient need, additional dispensary licenses shall be offered to qualified applicants in the State after October 1, 2018; provided that the department shall make available not more than one license per five hundred qualifying patients residing in any single county; provided further that in considering whether to award a new license, the department shall consider an applicant’s capability to serve and supply medical cannabis to qualified patients in a rural or underserved geographical area of a county; provided further that a “rural or underserved geographical area” shall be determined by considering the number of registered medical cannabis patients that reside within a certain zip code compared to the quantity of medical cannabis that the closest production center and retail dispensing location have the capability to provide.
- Notwithstanding any provision of subsection (f) to the contrary, the department may allow any dispensary licensee an additional two thousand five hundred cannabis plants at each of the licensee’s production centers; provided that the licensee shall be allowed no more than fifteen thousand cannabis plants in total across all of the licensee’s production centers; provided further that in no case shall a licensee be allowed more than seven thousand five hundred plants at a single production center.
- Notwithstanding any provision of subsection (g) to the contrary, the department may determine whether dispensary licensees shall be allowed no more than two additional retail dispensing locations per licensee. In considering whether to allow additional retail dispensing locations, the department shall consider the licensee’s capability to serve and supply medical cannabis to qualifying patients in a rural or underserved geographical area of a county. For purposes of this subsection, a “rural or underserved geographical area” shall be determined by considering the number of registered medical cannabis patients who reside within a certain zip code compared to the quantity of medical cannabis that the closest production center and retail dispensing location have the capability to provide.
- Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a dispensary shall not be subject to the prescription requirement of section 329-38 or to the board of pharmacy licensure or regulatory requirements under chapter 461.
Qualifications for licensure
- Each application for a dispensary license shall include both an individual applicant and an applying entity.
- The application shall be submitted to the department and shall include supporting documentation to establish the following:
- That the individual applicant:
- Has been a legal resident of the State for not less than five years preceding the date of application;
- Is not less than twenty-one years of age; and
- Has had no felony convictions;
- That the applying entity:
- Has been organized under the laws of the State;
- Has a Hawaii tax identification number;
- Has a department of commerce and consumer affairs business registration division number and suffix;
- Has a federal employer identification number;
- That the individual applicant:
- Is not less than fifty-one per cent held by Hawaii legal residents or entities wholly controlled by Hawaii legal residents who have been Hawaii legal residents for not less than five years immediately preceding the date the application was submitted;
- Has financial resources under its control of not less than $1,000,000 for each license applied for, plus not less than $100,000 for each retail dispensing location allowed under the license applied for, in the form of bank statements or escrow accounts, and that the financial resources have been under the control of the applying entity for not less than ninety days immediately preceding the date the application was submitted; and
- Is composed of principals or members, each of whom has no felony convictions.
- A dispensary license shall not be sold or otherwise transferred from one person to another person.
Medical cannabis dispensaries; license application procedure and verification; fees
- The department shall make a medical cannabis dispensary license application form available to the public on January 11, 2016, commencing at 8:00 a.m., Hawaii- Aleutian Standard Time.
- The department shall establish an open application period for each available license, the first of which shall be no later than 8:00 a.m., Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, on January 12, 2016, during which an application may be submitted. This submittal period shall be closed on January 29, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. The department shall publish notice of the open application period no less than thirty days prior to the start of the open application period.
- Pursuant to section 329D-7(2), a nonrefundable application fee for each license application shall be submitted to the department by certified or cashier’s check. Within seven days of approval, a dispensary license fee for each license approved shall be submitted to the department by certified or cashier’s check or the department shall issue a license to the next qualified applicant.
- All fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the medical cannabis registry and regulation special fund pursuant to section 321-30.1.
- Immediately upon receipt of each completed application form, the department shall issue a receipt to each applicant that includes the date and time of receipt.
- If an applicant submits an application form in which all required information is not complete and valid, the application shall not be accepted by the department and the non-refundable application fee shall be deposited in the medical cannabis registry and regulation special fund established pursuant to section 321-30.1.
- The medical cannabis dispensary application form shall request information necessary to verify that applicants meet the required qualifications pursuant to section 329D-3. Applicants shall provide a minimum of the following information:
- Legal name and date of birth of individual applicant;
- Last four digits of individual applicant’s social security number;
- Validation code from an eCrim report for the individual applicant generated by the Hawaii criminal justice data center no earlier than December 12, 2015, at 8:00 a.m. , Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time ;
- Street address, telephone number, fax number, and email address of the individual applicant;
- A tax clearance certificate issued by the department of taxation dated not more than thirty days prior to the date of the application;
- Name of the applying entity and any other name under which the applying entity does business, if applicable;
- Street address, telephone number, fax number, and email address of the applying entity;
- Date the applying entity was organized under the laws of Hawaii;
- A certified copy of the organizing documents of the applying entity;
- A copy of the applying entity’s bylaws;
- Federal employer identification number of the applying entity;
- Hawaii tax identification number of applying entity;
- Department of commerce and consumer affairs business registration number and suffix of the applying entity;
- Name(s) of all owners of the applying entity, in whole or in part, and their percentage of ownership;
- Date when continuous legal residence in Hawaii began for each Hawaii legal resident that owns a percentage of the applying entity;
- Total percentage of the applying entity that is owned by Hawaii legal residents ;
- Designation of the county for which the dispensary license applied for and proof that the required minimum financial resources of $1,200,000 are met;
- Total dollar amount of financial resources under control of the applying entity in the form of bank statements or escrow accounts;
- Date from when financial resources have been continuously controlled by the applying entity; and
- Copies of the entity’s bank statements for the twelve months prior to the date of the application.
- The department shall maintain a record of the time and date that all completed application forms were submitted.
- The department shall process and deposit the application fee within four business days of receipt of the completed application form.
- If, for any reason, the application fee is not available for deposit, the application shall be deemed void and the department shall inform the applicant in writing that its application has been rejected.
- The department shall review and verify the information and documentation materials only of applicants whose non-refundable application fee has been processed and deposited.
- The department shall verify that the information submitted in the application is true and valid and meets the requirements established in section 329D-3(b).
- Upon verification of the minimum requirements, the department shall place the verified application into the pool of applicants for further review and selection based on merit by the department.
- Pursuant to section 239D-7(2), a dispensary license may be renewed annually by payment of an annual renewal fee and subject to verification by the department through an unannounced inspection that the individual licensee and entity licensee continue to meet all licensing requirements from the date the initial licenses were issued.