Is marijuana legal in Hawaii? Yes, Kind of...and, also, no.

Hawaii marijuana laws are kind of, well, “growing”, or “evolving”. Hawaii marijuana is renowned for its quality, and has had a major impact on the national psyche (think “Maui Wowee” and “Kona Gold”), yet many people in Hawaii and around the world do not know what the Hawaii marijuana laws are all about. To the questions as follows:

Is weed legal in Hawaii?

Is marijuana legal in Hawaii?

Is Cannabis legal in Hawaii?

The answer is that cannabis is legal for medical use in Hawaii as long as the patient is properly registered with the Dept. of Health and abides by a whole lot of rules. Essentially, a patient can grow no more than 10 plants, and possess no more than 4 ounces of “usable” cannabis. “Usable cannabis” means buds or leaf or shake but does not include stems, seeds or roots.

Concentrates are also allowed. Hawaii cannabis laws allow for concentrates to be possessed and made by patients for themselves, and also the dispensaries are allowed to make and sell concentrates. In the rare case that concentrates would end up in a trial, the general rule (but consult with an attorney) is that concentrates are measured in terms of their percentage of THC and then compared to bus with an average of 20% THC, so the court can determine if the sample exceeds the allowable amount. For instance, if a person is found to have an ounce of honey oil the is 50% THC, then that would be counted as the same as 2.5 ounces of bud.

There are restrictions on the use of cannabis. It can not be consumed in public areas, and it must be in a childproof container if it is in a household with children.

There are protections for certain civil situations as well: Child welfare services can not restrict parental right based only on a parent having a 329 card. Medical services can’t be denied. Housing and school discrimination is prohibited.

Overall, the Hawaii Marijuana situation is getting so much better all the time. Each year, the Hawaii legislature improves the 329 law a little bit more, but it sure seems like a very long time to get to where other states have been for years!

Hawaii marijuana laws started to relax in the year 2000, when it was first legalized for medical use here. Originally, the law said that patients could grow up to 7 plants (only 3 mature and 4 immature), possess up to 3 ounces of usable marijuana, and there were no dispensaries allowed. The program was initially run by the Narcotics Enforcement Division, but then administration of the Hawaii Marijuana program transitioned to the Department of Health. During this time, the number of plants was increased to 10 (and they could be of any size), and the number of ounces increased to 4. In addition, dispensaries were approved, and now dispensaries are found on Maui, Oahu, and Kauai (Hawaii Island dispensaries will open in 2019). In addition to these changes, a few other changes have been added. PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) gained status as qualifying for the 329 card, for instance, and also the civil protections have broadened over the years.

Interested people often ask me some variable on the question “What is going to happen with the Hawaii marijuana laws?” My educated guess is that there will be a relatively slow progression of changes to the current system, that will include the licensure of more dispensaries, adding more qualifying conditions, adding more civil protections (such as for employment, see the prior blog), and perhaps adding in the availability of patients creating private cooperatives. I believe that Hawaii marijuana will be legal for recreational use/sale in 3 to 5 years (2021 to 2023).

I highly encourage you to create a profile at capitol.hawaii.gov so that you can add your own testimony to upcoming legislation.

Matthew Brittain

Effective Change, LLC, 224 Kamehameha Ave. $207, Hilo, HI

Matthew Brittain, LCSW, DCSW is a mental health and substance abuse professional living on the Big Island of Hawaii, state of Hawaii. Specializing in the coordination of medical marijuana certification services since 2003, more that 4,000 patients have been certified over the years.