Hawaii Marijuana News and Politics

U.S. Senators

Hirono, Mazie K. - (D - HI)

330 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-6361

Contact: www.hirono.senate.gov/contact


Schatz, Brian - (D - HI) Class III

722 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3934

Contact: www.schatz.senate.gov/contact

Senator Schatz is up for re-election in 2016


State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:

There are famous strains of marijuana named after the Aloha State: Maui Wowie, Kona Gold, Kauai Electric. Yet, the drug remains illegal in Hawaii. Both locally and nationally, marijuana legalization has been gaining traction, but it hasn't happened yet in Hawaii.

Colorado and Washington famously made national news in 2012 when they ended their prohibitions on marijuana in landmark referendums. Hawaii seemed like a natural state to take the same step. Residents have a reputation for both growing quality "pakalolo," and smoking it: according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, Hawaii has the 10th highest marijuana usage rate in the nation among those 18 and older.

Sure enough, in 2013 state Legislature introduced five bills to either legalize or decriminalize weed—reducing possession from a petty misdemeanor to a civil fine, essentially removing jail time for offenders. But the high didn’t last long. All the bills were defeated.

Hawaii Marijuana Laws/Penalties

Marijuana remains a crime in Hawaii. Indeed, many tourists and Hawaii residents are slapped with fines or jailed.

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana, meanwhile, is permitted in Hawaii. Qualifying patients are permitted to possess three ounces of usable medical marijuana. Home cultivation allows no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. There are no state-licensed dispensaries. Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include:

  •  Cachexia
  •  Cancer
  •  Chronic pain
  •  Crohn's disease
  •  Epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures
  •  Glaucoma
  •  HIV or AIDS
  •  Multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity
  •  Nausea

Marijuana Policy Project on Hawaii:

Last update: October 4, 2015

Medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Hawaii; session in recess until 2016

In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to legalize medical marijuana through the legislative process. The law permitted patients to grow their own plants but did not allow for dispensaries. On July 14, 2015, Gov. David Ige signed two important medical marijuana laws.

HB 321 allows medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Hawaii, and SB 1291 strengthens civil protections for patients. HB 321 initially allows eight dispensaries (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the license holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants, as well as the two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.

SB 1291 strengthens existing civil protections for medical marijuana patients and adds new protections that prevent landlords, schools, and courts from discriminating against medical marijuana patients.

Decriminalization and prohibition

The Hawaii Legislature has before it legislation that would replace criminal penalties for possession of marijuana with a civil violation and proposals to end the Aloha State’s marijuana prohibition by taxing and regulating adult marijuana sales similarly to Colorado. Hawaii has a two-year session, so lawmakers can take up these issues when they reconvene in Honolulu in January 2016.

A QMark Research poll, commissioned by the Drug Policy Action Group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, found that 78% of Hawaii voters support a dispensary system for medical marijuana, 69% think that jail time for marijuana offenses is inappropriate, and an overwhelming 57% favor legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. This last number is 20% higher than the last poll conducted in 2005.

In addition to polling, an economic analysis was commissioned from University of Hawaii economist David Nixon. Dr. Nixon estimates that Hawaii could redirect $9 million annually if it stopped arresting individuals for marijuana possession. Additionally, Hawaii could generate tax revenues of up to $11 million annually if the state legalized, regulated, and taxed the sale of marijuana to adults.

Multiple bills have been filed that will end Hawaii’s marijuana prohibition this session, giving legislators the opportunity to take a fiscally sound approach to marijuana policy when they reconvene in 2016.

Hawaii Cannabis News


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