Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Laws & Regulations

In June of 2000, Hawaii passed SB 862 HD1, making Hawaii the first state to legalize medical use cannabis via the legislature, as opposed to voter initiative. The law is codified as Hawaii Revised Statutes §329-121 et seq. In June 2013, the legislature amended the law with two bills, House Bill 668 and Senate Bill 642. HB 668 moves the medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health and establishes a Medical Marijuana Registry special fund. SB 642 changes the definitions of “adequate supply,” “medical use,” “primary caregiver,” “usable marijuana,” and “written certification.” SB 642 also amends registration requirements and creates a mechanism for law enforcement agencies to immediately verify registration status 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both measures take effect in January 2015.

Hawaii’s medical cannabis law provides legal protections for registered medical cannabis patients and their registered caregivers. Patients register with the Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division through their doctor when they obtain a registration certification, and designate their primary caregiver at that time. 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.

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. 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. 

The regulations governing Hawaii’s medical marijuana program are found in Chapter 23-202 of the Hawaii Administrative Rules were issued on December 14, 2000. These regulations are mostly a restatement of the state’s statute, but they also help clarify the limits and rules on the cultivation of medicine. 


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 (2013) - Requires that the medical marijuana program be transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health by Jan. 1, 2015.

SB 642 (2013) - Changes the definition of "adequate supply" from 3 mature/4 immature plants, to simply 7 live marijuana plants, and requires that the patient's primary care physician be their recommending physician. Changes for the program go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Act 241 (2015) - Creates dispensary program, adds PTSD to list of conditions, gets ride of primary care physician requirement.

Act 242 (2015) - Adding anti-discrimination protections.

HRS 329, Part IX Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Registry Law

HRS 329D Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Dispensary Law

HRS328J Hawaii’s Smoke Free Law – all of which are directly applicable to smoking or vaping marijuana. 


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