Hawai'i Medical Marijuana Laws & Regulations

In 2000, Hawaii passed SB 862 HD1, making Hawaii the first state to legalize medical cannabis via the legislature, as opposed to voter initiative.  

The legislature amended the law in 2013 with two bills that took effect in January 2015, House Bill (HB) 668 and Senate Bill (SB) 642. HB 668 moved the medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the state’s Department of Health (“Department of Health”) and established a Medical Marijuana Registry Special Fund.  SB 642 redefined the terms “adequate supply,” “medical use,” “primary caregiver,” “usable marijuana” and “written certification.” SB 642 also amended the registration requirements and created a mechanism for law enforcement agencies to immediately verify registration status 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In 2015, the legislature passed two more bills that greatly expanded the medical cannabis program. HB 321 created a program allowing 8 medical marijuana dispensaries with two cultivation licenses each and allows more to be licensed in 2017. SB 1291 clarified anti-discrimination protections for patients.

In 2016, the legislature passed HB 2707 which created a legislative oversight group to monitor the program and report back to the legislature before 2018 legislative session. The bill also expanded recommending power to advance practice-registered nurses and expanded the allowed delivery methods and protections for paraphernalia. HB 2707 also extended transportation protections to facilitate transportation to certified laboratories. 

Hawaii’s medical cannabis law provides legal protections for registered medical cannabis patients and their registered caregivers.[1] Patients register electronically with Hawaii’s Department of Health through their doctor or advanced practice registered nurse who will provide a registration certification.[2]  At the time of registering, patients designate their primary caregiver.[3] Hawaii has a registry verification system that law enforcement  can access 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, so registered patients and caregivers who are in clear compliance with the law are often not subject to arrest.[4]

While Hawaii law does not explicitly protect patients and caregivers against arrest, it provides an affirmative defense that allows a defendant’s status as a registered patient or caregiver as a defense in court.[5] If the court determines that a patient or caregiver's possession or use of medical cannabis was within the scope of the law, the court may dismiss charges before a trial or acquit.[6] 

The regulations governing Hawaii’s medical marijuana program are found in Chapter 160 of the Hawaii Administrative Rules (“HAR”). These regulations are mostly a restatement of the state’s statute, but they also help clarify the limits and rules on the cultivation of medical marijuana.  The regulations governing Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensaries are found in Chapter 850 of the HAR.

Laws

Hawaii State Bill on Medical Marijuana

In June of 2000, Hawaii passed SB 862 HD1, which made Hawaii the first state whose legislature, as opposed to voter initiative, legalized marijuana for medical use.

Hawaii's Controlled Substances Act

HB 668/Act 177 (2013) - Required that the medical marijuana program be transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health by January 1, 2015.

SB 642/Act 178 (2013) - Changed the definition of "adequate supply" from 3 mature/4 immature marijuana plants, to 7 live marijuana plants, and required that the patient's primary care physician be their recommending physician.

HB 321/Act 241 (2015) - Created the dispensary program, added Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) to the list of debilitating medical conditions and removed the primary care physician requirement.

HB 2707/Act 230 (2016): Advanced practice registered nurses are able to certify patients for medical marijuana use.

Regulations

Chapter 11-160: Hawaii Administrative Rules, entitled “Medical Use of Marijuana,” became effective on July 18, 2015.

Chapter 11-850: Hawaii Administrative Rules, entitled “Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,” became effective December 14, 2015.


[1] Hawaii Revised Statute (“Haw. Rev. Stat.”) § 329-125.

[2] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 329-123.

[3] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 329-123.

[4] Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 329-123(d), 125.

[5] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 329-125.

[6] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 329-125.