Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Hawaii

  1. Hawaii Cannabis
  2. Hawaii Medical Marijuana Card
  3. Consequences of Having a MMJ Card in Hawaii

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Hawaii

Legal protection from marijuana-related arrests and access to marijuana as a minor are some of the benefits of having a medical marijuana card in Hawaii.

Legal Protection

A Hawaii 329 card (also called a medical marijuana card) protects the cardholder from marijuana-related prosecution, provided the registration remains active. During a police stop for a marijuana-related search, the 329 card proves that the cardholder is an approved medical marijuana user allowed to carry cannabis. Hence, medical marijuana cardholders are advised to always have their 329 cards with them when carrying cannabis.

Although the possession of up to 3 grams of cannabis has been decriminalized in the state, it is still an offense to be in possession of cannabis with a Hawaii medical marijuana card. While the penalty for possessing up to 3 grams of cannabis is a maximum fine of $130, possessing between 3 grams and 1 ounce of marijuana without a 329 card is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days imprisonment and a maximum of $1,000 fine.

Higher Purchase and/or Possession Limits

Due to the ban on recreational marijuana, possessing any amount of marijuana without a Hawaii medical marijuana card is illegal. However, if you have the state’s 329 card, you can possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana without being penalized.

Higher Cultivation Limits

Currently, the only legal way to cultivate marijuana for personal use in Hawaii is to obtain a 329 card. With a Hawaii medical marijuana card, you can grow up to 10 marijuana plants at home if such cultivation is made known to the Hawaii Department of Health. Without a Hawaii medical marijuana card, anyone caught growing marijuana will be punished per state law.

Access for Minors

In Hawaii, possessing a medical marijuana card allows minors under the age of 18 who require access to medical cannabis to use medical marijuana. While prospective recreational marijuana bills in the state propose adult-use cannabis to be made accessible only to individuals 21 or older, the state's medical marijuana program allows minors with qualifying medical conditions to obtain and use medical cannabis. Hawaii permits individuals who are 18 or older to purchase and possess marijuana legally with an unexpired medical marijuana card. The state even allows minors younger than 18 who have designated caregivers to access medical cannabis via their caregiver registration cards.


Holding a Hawaii medical marijuana card offers cardholders the benefit of enjoying medical marijuana reciprocity provisions in other states, enhancing the experience for cardholders compared to individuals without medical marijuana cards. Reciprocity allows individuals with valid Hawaii medical marijuana cards to purchase and possess medical cannabis in other states legally, creating a more seamless and convenient experience for patients who may be traveling or relocating. This benefit is especially valuable for individuals managing chronic conditions or seeking the consistent treatment they are accustomed to in their home state.

In contrast, individuals without medical marijuana cards may face more significant hurdles in accessing cannabis for medical purposes in Hawaii. They would need to adhere to the state's regulations for obtaining a local medical marijuana card, which may involve additional time, paperwork, and potential delays in accessing the necessary medical cannabis.

Some states in the United States accepting out-of-state medical cannabis cards include Oklahoma, Maine, Rhode Island, Utah, Arkansas, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Hawaii

You cannot possess firearms or enjoy certain federal benefits if you have a Hawaii medical marijuana card.

Firearm Prohibition

Possessing a Hawaii medical marijuana card disqualifies you from owning firearms and ammunition in the state. The state abides by federal law restricting medical marijuana cardholders from purchasing firearms from federal firearms licensees (FFLs). FFLs, regardless of their locations, operate pursuant to federal law. Note that the ATF sent an open letter to FFLs forbidding the sale of firearms to unlawful marijuana users. The ATF clearly states that individuals who use marijuana, regardless of purpose (medical or recreational) and the legalization status in the state where the individuals reside, are unlawful users of marijuana. The Controlled Substances Act classified marijuana as a banned substance with no accepted medicinal use.

The ATF also includes a direct question in Form 4473 for prospective gun users to indicate their marijuana status. Persons who indicate they are marijuana users are denied access to firearms, while medical marijuana users who claim not to be unlawful users risk being charged with perjury, which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Also, police departments in Hawaii verify whether firearms permit applicants are medical marijuana cardholders before approving their applications. Individuals found to be participants in the state's medical cannabis program or medical cannabis cardholders are denied firearm permits.

Driving Restrictions

Hawaii medical marijuana cardholders face legal prohibitions when applying for or maintaining a commercial driver's license. Commercial driver licenses are administered under federal laws by the United States Department of Transportation. Since federal law still considers marijuana a banned drug, CDL applicants will have their applications denied based on their marijuana status. If you already own a commercial driver's license and a Hawaii medical marijuana card, you risk losing your job if you test positive for marijuana.

While medical marijuana cardholders can drive regular vehicles, such as their personal cars, in Hawaii without being subject to federal laws, possessing a medical marijuana card may lead a law enforcement officer to insist on a drug test if you show signs of impairment while driving. Hawaii does not have a per se limit for THC content in the blood of drivers. However, the state still prohibits driving while under the influence of marijuana, even if you have a medical marijuana card. With no legal limit stipulated, you may be charged with marijuana DUI for having any amount of THC in your system. Therefore, it is recommended that you refrain from driving if you have recently used medical marijuana, as THC metabolites may remain in the body for several hours after consumption.

Annual Renewal

The effort and financial commitment required to renew a Hawaii medical marijuana card is one of the drawbacks to possessing a 329 card. Depending on your initial application, a Hawaii medical marijuana card may be valid for 1 year or 2 years.

Before renewing a medical marijuana card, you must first schedule a renewal consultation with a qualified healthcare provider to issue a recertification qualifying you for continued participation in the state's medical cannabis program. While Hawaii allows medical cannabis cardholders to save time by setting up recertification appointments via telehealth services, cardholders still have to pay consultation fees, which may reach up to $250.

After obtaining a recertification, you must complete a renewal application similar to the initial application for a medical marijuana card. The fee for renewing a 1-year 329 card is $38.50, while it costs $77 to renew a 2-year card. An additional $3.50 administration fee applies when paying the renewal fee on the Hawaii medical cannabis registry portal. All fees are non-refundable even if a new card is not issued.

The consultation, renewal, and administration fees can add to significant costs, especially for cardholders on a tight budget. These costs can be a burden for cardholders who rely on medical marijuana for their health and well-being. Note that the renewal process may take several weeks, potentially causing disruptions to the cardholder's access to medical marijuana.

Employment Restrictions

Medical cannabis cardholders may face significant discrimination at their workplaces due to their status as medical marijuana users and the stigma surrounding cannabis use. According to the state's medical marijuana laws, Hawaii protects the rights of employers to enforce policies maintaining zero-tolerance, drug-free workplaces, stating that medical marijuana is not authorized in the workplace of a medical marijuana cardholder's employment.

Consequently, Hawaii employers may prohibit the use of medical marijuana in workplaces, conduct drug tests, and terminate or discipline employees based on their marijuana use. Medical marijuana cardholders also face employment discrimination when applying for federal jobs. Due to the federal ban on marijuana, medical marijuana cardholders are unlikely to be able to secure jobs with federal agencies.

Federal Prohibitions

Although more and more states are loosening their laws to allow medical marijuana use, the federal position on the matter of marijuana status remains the same. Whether used for medical or recreational purposes, it is an offense to possess or consume marijuana according to federal law. Therefore, Hawaii MMJ cardholders who apply for federal employment are unlikely to be successful in their applications.

Also, if you obtain federal employment before getting a Hawaii medical marijuana card, you run the risk of losing your employment if you fail a drug test for Marijuana. In other words, holding a Hawaii medical marijuana card and a job with a federal agency do not mix.

Furthermore, you face further restrictions if you reside in federally-funded housing in Hawaii. Federally assisted housing is operated according to federal law and not Hawaii laws, meaning that cannabis possession or use on such properties is illegal. Hawaii laws will not protect medical marijuana cardholders caught cultivating or consuming marijuana in housing funded by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hence, medical marijuana cardholders or cultivators face eviction for illegal marijuana acts on federally assisted housing.

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