Hawaii legalized medical cannabis in 2000 in the form of Act 228. However, Act 228 only authorized qualifying patients to either grow their own cannabis at home or have a caretaker do it for them.
It wasn’t until 2015 when Hawaii passed Act 241, allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program created guidelines for medical dispensaries to dispense medical cannabis products to qualifying patients who have registered with the state.
The state of Hawaii recently issued eight licenses to dispensaries to begin operating in the state, however, none have opened their doors just yet. The businesses started cultivating cannabis in February, 2017, so the open dates are certainly near.
Patients and caregivers with a valid Hawaii medical marijuana card may possess up to four ounces of "usable marijuana." It should not be broken down into less than one-ounce bags or containers, otherwise the police will consider it "intent to distribute." Selling marijuana is still illegal, even for legal patients and caregivers, and transportation of marijuana is still a grey area in the law. It is implied that patients will need to at some point take their medicine with them, but carrying it in public places is still prohibited. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you only carry what you need, keep it in an airtight container, and keep it in the trunk of your car when driving, if possible.
Once dispensaries open in early 2017, patients with Hawaii medical marijuana cards will be allowed to purchase four ounces of marijuana in a fifteen-day period. Therefore, a patient will be allowed to purchase up to eight ounces, or the equivalent of manufactured marijuana products, during a given month.
Pursuant to Hawaii’s Smoke Free Law, consumption of cannabis is not allowed in public places, whether they are inside or outside. Medical cannabis consumption must be done so by qualified patients within a private residence out of public view.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of marijuana carries the same penalty as DUI for alcohol. Because of this, it is strongly recommended to never drive under the influence of cannabis. Penalties for driving the influence of marijuana can be steep and increase with each offence.
The risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to driving under the influence of cannabis. Always consume safe, responsibly and within the confines of the law.
Transportation is a very tricky issue in Hawaii. On the one hand, medical use of marijuana is defined in state statute as, "the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition.” Then, in a further statute prohibits the medical marijuana cardholders from possessing marijuana, "In a school bus, public bus, or any moving vehicle; in the workplace of one’s employment; on any school grounds; at any public park, public beach, public recreation center, recreation or youth center; or other places open to the public." That being said, the Hawaii Supreme Court sided with a patient in State v. Woodhall where a patient was found in possession of one ounce of marijuana at the Kona International Airport (Island of Hawaii AKA The Big Island). He was charged with promoting a detrimental drug. The court in Woodhall acknowledged the contradiction in the statute and called on the state legislature to remedy it (which it did not), and recognized that card-holding medical marijuana patients would be in virtually constant violation of the law in this regard.
The legislature did make a change to the law after the Woodhall case: Inter-island transport of marijuana is now expressly prohibited. Therefore, even though medical marijuana patients may possess up to four ounces of marijuana or manufactured marijuana product (concentrates, edibles, etc.), it may not transported from one island to another.
Marijuana on Federal Land
Nearly all Federal land in Hawaii is a military base or a National Park. The bases are highly secure and it is near impossible to enter one without the appropriate clearance. Consuming or cultivating cannabis on Federal land is illegal and can come with some steep fines.
Always grow and consume your cannabis on private property out of public view.