Hawaii County allowed the medical use of marijuana after the State of Hawaii passed HRS 329 or Hawaii’s Uniformed Controlled Substances Act. As defined in Section 329-121, medical use involves acquiring, possessing, cultivating, using, distributing or transferring, and transporting marijuana and essential paraphernalia to address a qualifying patient’s debilitating condition. While adult use remains illegal as of March 2023, continuous efforts to legalize it are made by legislators, with SB 669 as the most recent bill approved in the State Senate. If passed into law, the possession, cultivation, and transport of up to 30 grams of marijuana by Hawaii residents aged 21 or older will be allowed.
According to the Department of Health Office of Medical Cannabis Control and Regulation, only the indoor cultivation of medical marijuana by a licensed medical cannabis dispensary, a registered qualifying patient, or a designated primary caregiver is permitted in the county. All cultivation areas must be enclosed and equipped with adequate security and surveillance measures, including alarm systems, video monitoring, locks, and exterior lighting.
Qualified patients or their primary caregivers must have a valid 329 registration card indicating the designated cultivation area for personal cultivation. Medical marijuana may only be grown in the qualifying patient’s residence, the primary caregiver’s residence, or another site owned by the patient or caregiver. A total of 10 plants may be grown, and each must have an appropriate identification tag containing the 329 registration number and expiration date. Pursuant to Section 329-130, primary caregivers will be prohibited from cultivating medical marijuana by January 1, 2025. However, if the primary caregiver is a parent or legal guardian of a minor qualifying patient, then they will be allowed to continue cultivating medical marijuana.
Yes, medical cannabis production centers operating under a licensed medical cannabis dispensary are authorized by the state to manufacture medical marijuana in Hawaii County. As stated in HRS 329D or Hawaii’s Medical Cannabis Dispensary Law, these production centers may manufacture products such as capsules, lozenges, oils, tinctures, ointments, pills, transdermal patches, and aerosol products.
Section 329-129 prohibits the use of flammable solvents such as butane to extract tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana plants. Production centers must be in enclosed indoor facilities equipped with 24-hour security measures. These centers are responsible for the real-time report of the inventory of all marijuana products, raw or manufactured, possessed by their dispensary to the Department of Health (DOH).
Marijuana product samples cannot be provided to any Hawaii County residents at all times.
Yes, medical marijuana retail is legal in Hawaii County. Qualifying patients may purchase flowers, lozenges, tablets, capsules, topicals, concentrates, and cartridges from licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in Hilo, Kona, and Waimea. With the passage of House Bill 2097, edibles are also now sold by dispensaries since January 2021.
Dispensaries may operate from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM as long as it complies with all regulations under Section 329D-6. Only authorized employees may handle all medical marijuana and marijuana products to be dispensed to qualifying patients or their primary caregivers. A valid 329 Hawaii medical card and a government-issued ID must be presented to enter the dispensary and purchase medical marijuana. Consuming marijuana and other products within the dispensary’s premises is not allowed.
The dispensary must report all transactions to the DOH in real time through a maintained computer tracking system.
There are no cannabis delivery services offered in Hawaii County as of March 2023. This is in compliance with Section 329D-6, which prohibits the off-premises delivery of marijuana and marijuana products by dispensaries to qualifying patients and primary caregivers.
Hawaii County residents must register with the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program to become medical marijuana patients. Obtaining a 329 Hawaii medical card generally involves six steps.
Hawaii County residents who may have any of the following debilitating medical conditions must set an appointment with a certifying medical provider: cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, and severe persistent muscle spasms.
Create an account using a valid email address and fill out an application online.
Upload a valid government-issued ID and application form.
Pay the application fee online, worth $38.50 for a one-year registration or $77.00 for a two-year registration (if eligible & for Renewal Patients ONLY).
Submit the online application to the certifying medical provider.
The medical provider will certify the patient’s condition and submit the application to the DOH for approval.
The patient will receive an approval notification via email once their application is approved. The electronic medical marijuana card may then be downloaded once available. However, patients are only authorized to use medical marijuana once they receive the physical copy of their 329 medical cards.
The DOH releases monthly data reports of the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program in the State. From December 2015 to December 2021, the program recorded an increase in the number of valid patients – 13,150 versus 34,125.
The State imposes a 4% general excise tax (GET) on medical marijuana purchased at licensed dispensaries. On top of this, a 0.5% surcharge is set by the counties of Honolulu, Kauai, and Hawaii on every purchase. This contributed significantly to the growing economy of Hawaii, as evident in the January 2022 report of the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Licensing System. According to the report, the State collected $2,568,947 in excise tax in 2021. From 2017 to 2021, the excise tax collected totaled $6,465,294.
Located in Hawaii County, the Hawaii Police Department recorded decreasing crime rates related to marijuana since the State legalized its medical use. Based on its report on the FBI Crime Data Explorer, marijuana possession arrests in the county decreased from 190 in 2014 to 128 in 2020. Meanwhile, arrests due to marijuana sales decreased from 45 in 2014 to three in 2020.
Throughout the years, arrests for marijuana possession have been as follows: 179 in 2015, 221 in 2016, 217 in 2017, 169 in 2018, and 159 in 2019. On the other hand, the recorded marijuana sales arrests were 42 in 2015, 20 in 2016, 38 in 2017, 27 in 2018, and 15 in 2019.