Hawaii’s Cannabis Laws

Hawaii is a place of natural beauty, with its stunning beaches and lush greenery. However, when it comes to cannabis laws, the state has a complex history. In recent years, Hawaii has been leading the nationwide trend toward legalizing cannabis, with medical cannabis becoming legal in 2000 and adult-use cannabis being legalized in 2020. Despite these changes, strict regulations and restrictions still exist regarding the use, possession, and sale of cannabis in the state. To avoid legal trouble, it is crucial to understand the laws surrounding cannabis in Hawaii. This article will provide an overview of the current Hawaii cannabis laws, including the history of cannabis legalization in the state, the regulations surrounding medical and adult-use cannabis, and the penalties for violating these laws.

Medical Cannabis 

Act 228, signed into law by Governor Ben Cayetano in 2000, enabled medical cannabis cardholders in Hawaii to cultivate their cannabis or designate a caretaker to do so on their behalf. With the signing of this law, Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical cannabis through a legislative act and the eighth state overall to do so. However, the law did not establish any legal market or dispensary provisions.

Is Cannabis Legal in Hawaii?

It has been reported that the Hawaii Senate has just passed a bill known as SB 669, which, if approved, would make Hawaii the 22nd state in the United States to legalize recreational cannabis. The Senate’s vote was 22-3 in favor of the measure. The bill will now move on to the state House of Representatives for review. DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel at Marijuana Policy Project, has stated that advocates have been pushing to legalize cannabis in Hawaii for some time now sensibly, and this move brings Hawaii one step closer to being the next state to end cannabis prohibition. It’s worth noting that possession of 3 grams of cannabis has already been decriminalized in Hawaii, with offenders facing a $130 fine.

Can you tell me about the rules for using and possessing Cannabis in Hawaii?

According to Hawaii law, individuals using medical cannabis are permitted to use and possess it only in private settings like their own home or a friend’s residence. Public areas like parks, beaches, and sidewalks are off-limits for cannabis use. Additionally, driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis is prohibited, regardless of medical use status. Petty misdemeanors with fines up to $130 are imposed for possession of up to three grams of cannabis, while possession of more than three grams can result in a misdemeanor charge, 30 days in jail, and a fine up to $1,000.

How Much Cannabis Can I Grow?

If you are a medical cannabis patient or a caregiver, you may grow a limited amount of cannabis for personal use in Hawaii. However, this is only possible if you possess a valid Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card issued by the Hawaii Department of Health. Under Hawaiian law, you can grow up to ten plants, with no more than four mature and flowering, at any given time for personal use. To ensure your privacy, the plants must be grown in an enclosed, locked space like a closet, room, or greenhouse that is not visible to the public. It’s crucial to understand that the recreational use of cannabis is illegal in Hawaii, and it’s a criminal offense to grow cannabis for non-medical purposes. Avoid cultivating cannabis without a valid Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card, as it’s also unlawful and can lead to criminal charges.

What are the Medical Cannabis Laws in Hawaii?

The qualifying medical conditions for obtaining medical cannabis in Hawaii include the following:

  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS);
  2. Cancer;
  3. Glaucoma;
  4. HIV/AIDS;
  5. Multiple Sclerosis (MS);
  6. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  7. Rheumatoid arthritis;
  8. Epilepsy;
  9. Crohn’s disease;
  10. Lupus;
  11. Parkinson’s disease;
  12. Spinal cord injuries and illnesses;
  13. Seizures;
  14. Chronic pain;
  15. Nausea.

It is important to note that while medical cannabis is legal in Hawaii, federal law still considers cannabis to be a Schedule 1 controlled substance and prohibits its use, possession, and cultivation. Users of medical cannabis patients may face legal risks, such as federal prosecution, even if they comply with state law. 

Cannabis Advertising Laws in Hawaii

Here are some general points related to cannabis advertising laws in Hawaii:

  1. Medical Cannabis Advertising Restrictions:
  2. Medical cannabis advertising is subject to restrictions to ensure responsible and compliant promotion. Advertisements must adhere to guidelines set by the Hawaii Department of Health, and any misleading content that targets minors or promotes excessive or unsafe consumption may be prohibited.
  3. Age Restrictions:
  4. Advertising should not target individuals under the legal age for medical cannabis use. It’s essential to consider age restrictions to prevent the promotion of cannabis products to minors.
  5. Location Restrictions:
  6. The placement of cannabis advertisements may be subject to location-based restrictions. Advertisements should not be placed in areas where they are likely to be seen by individuals who are ineligible for medical cannabis use.
  7. Truthful and Non-Deceptive Content:
  8. Advertisements must be truthful and non-deceptive. Any claims about the medical benefits of cannabis products should be substantiated, and false or misleading information should be avoided.
  9. Compliance with State Regulations:
  10. Advertisers must comply with all relevant state regulations governing the medical cannabis industry. This includes licensing requirements, labeling regulations, and other applicable laws.
  11. Coordination with Dispensaries:
  12. Dispensaries and other entities involved in the sale of medical cannabis should coordinate with the Hawaii Department of Health to ensure compliance with advertising regulations.

In Hawaii, the advertising of cannabis and cannabis products is regulated by the state’s Department of Health. Under Hawaii law, it is illegal to advertise cannabis or cannabis products in a manner that is appealing to minors. This includes using cartoons, toys, or other images or slogans that may attract children or adolescents. In addition, cannabis advertising may not be placed where it is visible to the general public, including highways, streets, sidewalks, parks, and other public areas.

Cannabis advertising must also include a disclaimer that states that cannabis products are intended for use by registered medical cannabis patients only and that the use of cannabis may impair a person’s ability to operate machinery or vehicles. Furthermore, advertisements for cannabis products must not make false or misleading claims about the benefits or effects of cannabis, and they must not include any health or medical claims unless supported by scientific evidence.

It is important to note that while the advertising of medical cannabis is legal in Hawaii, the advertising of cannabis for non-medical purposes is currently illegal under state law.

Sale And Delivery 

In Hawaii, the sale and delivery of cannabis are legal for licensed medical cannabis dispensaries authorized by the state’s Department of Health to operate in the state. Recreational sales and delivery of cannabis are currently illegal in Hawaii.

Medical cannabis dispensaries are required to follow strict regulations and guidelines to operate legally in the state. They must obtain a license from the Hawaii Department of Health and comply with all state and local regulations, including requirements for the security, testing, labeling, and packaging of cannabis products.

In addition, medical cannabis dispensaries are not allowed to sell or deliver cannabis or cannabis products to anyone who does not have a valid Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card issued by the Hawaii Department of Health. Patients must present their card and a valid government-issued photo ID to purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

It is important to note that while the sale and delivery of medical cannabis are legal in Hawaii, the sale and delivery of cannabis for non-medical purposes are currently illegal and can result in criminal charges.

Driving Under Influence in Hawaii

In Hawaii, it is illegal to operate a vehicle or any heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis, regardless of whether the person is a medical cannabis patient or not.

Under Hawaii law, a person is considered to be driving under the influence of cannabis if the use of cannabis impairs their ability to operate a vehicle. Various methods can determine this, including field sobriety tests, blood tests, and urine tests.

If a person is convicted of driving under the influence of cannabis, they may face penalties such as fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. The specific penalties will depend on the circumstances of the offense and the person’s prior criminal record.

Medical cannabis patients need to understand that even if they have a valid Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card, they can still be charged with driving under the influence if found to be impaired while driving. Therefore, it is always best to avoid driving after using cannabis and to find alternative modes of transportation.


In conclusion, Hawaii has established a comprehensive set of laws and regulations governing the use, possession, cultivation, sale, and advertising of cannabis. While the use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in the state, the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes is still illegal. 

Medical cannabis patients are required to obtain a Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card and follow strict guidelines regarding possession and cultivation limits, as well as the use and storage of cannabis.

Licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are allowed to operate in Hawaii, but only for selling and delivering medical cannabis to registered patients. The advertising of cannabis and cannabis products is also regulated by the state, with strict guidelines regarding the placement, content, and targeting of advertisements.

It is essential for individuals to understand the laws and regulations regarding cannabis in Hawaii and to comply with them to avoid legal consequences. While medical cannabis has been shown to have potential health benefits, it is vital to use it responsibly and by state laws to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals.

Once again, we want to remind you that the guidelines on Hawaii’s cannabis laws can not be interpreted as legal advice rather than information.