Updated on April 25, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
When Governor Ben Cayetano signed Senate Bill 862 into law in June of 2000, Hawaii became the first state to enact a medical marijuana law legislatively rather than via a ballot initiative. In fact, the marijuana bill easily cleared the state house and senate, showing an uncommonly strong legislative will to help patients in need. The law makes registration for a Hawaii medical marijuana card mandatory for patients.
Hawaii’s medical marijuana program became even stronger in 2015 when the state created a dispensary system. State leaders realized that even though patients and their caregivers were able to grow and cultivate their own plant, access to medical cannabis was still a challenge for many. The new law makes eight dispensary licenses available, and license holders will be able to open a maximum of two retail dispensing locations per license. Patients who have registered with Hawaii’s medical marijuana program will be able to obtain no more than four ounces of cannabis, or products such as lozenges and oils infused with cannabis, every 15 days.
Medical Marijuana Facts for Hawaii
- The most recently available marijuana data indicated that there are over 8000 medical marijuana patients in Hawaii. The program experienced a period of rapid expansion between 2006 and 2010 when registrations grew by 260 percent and almost 6000 new patients were added to the roster.
- The marijuana card is known as a “Blue Card” in Hawaii and, unlike states like California, it can take as long as 6 months for a patient to acquire one.
- The highest concentration of patients is located on the Big Island, where there are 3,779 medical cannabis patients despite the fact that only 13.6 % of the state’s population lives there.
- Hawaii’s tropical climate and easy access to water has made it into a great place for outdoor marijuana cultivation.
- Data indicates that there are 175 physicians in Hawaii who have recommended medical marijuana to their patients. Hawaii doctors who deal with medical cannabis do not allow walk-ins and require a full transfer of medical records before seeing a patient.
- There are 958 caregivers growing marijuana for Hawaii patients according to the most recent statistics available.
- Records show that only 3 patients actually violated the medical marijuana law in 2010.
Hawaii Medical Marijuana Facts: Management and Enforcement
- Instead of being under the Department of Health as is the case in most states, the patient registry is managed by the state’s Narcotics Enforcement Division, which is also in charge of enforcing drug laws. This creates a difficult situation where those issuing marijuana cards are often ideologically opposed to medical cannabis.
- Another contradiction of interests occurs because the Hawaii Police Department is in charge of enforcing the medical marijuana law, which much of the department doesn’t support. In fact, the department receives up to $250,000 annually to eradicate cannabis and enforce prohibition. No money is allocated to enforce the medical marijuana program.
- The Hawaii legislature did not pass any marijuana decriminalization laws in 2016 but did approve a study on what the likely impact of decriminalization would be.
- There were no bills addressing marijuana litigation as the 2017 legislative session began. However, there were some bills that were expected to be filed before the January 25 deadline. These included legislation that would either lower the criminal penalties for possession of weed or remove them altogether. There was also legislation expected to be filed that would legalize marijuana and make it taxable in a similar fashion to alcohol.
Keep checking back with MarijuanaDoctors.com and we will continue to provide you updated medical marijuana facts for Hawaii and all other states.