In June of 2000, Hawaii passed SB 862 HD1, which made Hawaii the first state whose legislature, as opposed to voter initiative, legalized marijuana for medical use. Hawaii’s medical marijuana law creates a confidential statewide registry of medical marijuana patients and caregivers, with all patients being issued registry certificates. Any registered patient may legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes, and their caregiver may assist them in doing so. Specifically, once a patient has been issued a valid registry identification card, they are legally permitted to grow, posses, transport, and use marijuana for medical purposes only. Patients, as well as primary caregivers, have an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution under the state’s marijuana laws.
Additionally, physicians are protected against any kind of punishment for advising a patient about medical marijuana or providing a patient with a signed statement allowing them to be included in the state’s medical marijuana registry.
For further information, contact the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (the Department) by writing or calling:
Hawaii Department of Public Safety
919 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96814
II. Becoming A Patient
A. How to become a medical marijuana patient in the state of Hawaii
Under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law the registration requirements are as follows:
1. Physicians who issue written certification shall register the names, addresses, patient identification numbers, and other identifying information of the patients issued written certifications with the department of public safety;
2. Qualifying patients shall register with the department of public safety. Such registration shall be effective until the expiration of the certificate issued by the physician. Every qualifying patient shall provide sufficient identifying information to establish personal identity of the qualifying patient and the primary caregiver, if one exists. Qualifying patients shall report changes in information within five working days.
B. Registration Fee
The Department shall issue to the qualifying patients a registration certificate, and may charge a reasonable fee not to exceed $25.
C. Eligible medical conditions: “Debilitating Medical Condition”
“Debilitating medical condition” means:
1. Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or the treatment of these conditions;
2. A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
1. Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
2. Severe pain;
3. Severe nausea;
4. Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or
5. Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease; or
3. Any other medical condition approved by the department of health pursuant to administrative rules in response to a request from a physician or potentially qualifying patient.
D. Written Certification Must be Provided to Prove Eligibility
Pursuant to Hawaii’s medical marijuana law, “written certification” means “the qualifying patient’s medical records or a statement signed by a qualifying patient’s physician, stating that in the physician’s professional opinion, the qualifying patient has a debilitating medical condition and the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient.
The department of public safety may require, through its rulemaking authority, that all written certifications comply with a designated form. “Written certifications” are valid for only one year from the time of signing.
A patient who has been diagnosed with any of the above shown conditions and wishes to become a registered medical marijuana patient in the state of Hawaii should do the following:
1. Ask their physician to request a written certification form from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Department of Public Safety at (808) 837-8470;
2. Send the completed certification form along with a copy of the patient’s photo ID and a check for the registration fee ($25 for the patient plus $25 for the caregiver, if any) to the following address:
Narcotics Enforcement Division (NED)
3375 Koapaka St., Suite D-100
Honolulu, HI 96819
E. Finding a Doctor
Under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law, a “physician” is defined as a person who is licensed under chapters 453 and 460, and is licensed with authority to prescribe drugs and is registered under section 329-32. However, “physician” does not include physician’s assistant as described in section 453-5.3.
Hawaii, like other states that allow medical marijuana, protects treating physicians from arrest, prosecution, being penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege for providing written certification for the medical use of marijuana for a qualifying patient. Additionally, the federal government recognized physicians’ 1st amendment right to recommend marijuana for medical purposes in the case Conant v. Walters (2002).
In order for physicians to qualify for these protections, they must do the following:
1. Diagnose the patient as having a debilitating medical condition;
2. Explain the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana;
3. Provide a professional opinion after having completed a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition made in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship; and
4. Comply with the registration requirements of Hawaii’s medical marijuana law.
F. Renewal Applications
Once per year, patients must resubmit their applications and fees, including an updated physician’s statement, in order for their registration certificates to remain valid. Additionally, patients must notify the registry within 5 days of any change in the name or address of a patient or their physician or caregiver(s).
G. Age Limits
If the patient is a minor (under 18 years of age), the following additional regulations apply:
1. The patient’s physician must explain the risks and benefits of medical marijuana use to the patient’s parent(s)/guardian; and
2. The patient’s parent(s)/guardian consent in writing to:
1. Allow the patient’s medical use of marijuana;
2. Serve as the qualifying patient’s primary caregiver; and
3. Control the acquisition, dosage, and frequency of use by the patient.
H. Personal Records
Americans for Safe Access strongly urges all patients to keep copies of all paperwork they have related to their status as a medical marijuana patient as proof of legal status. This is meant to protect patients from possible future encounters with law enforcement agents.
III. Limitations and Protections under the Initiative
Hawaii defines “medical use” as the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition. With regards to the above definition for “medical use,” the term distribution is limited to the transfer of marijuana and paraphernalia from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient.
A. Possession and Growing Limitations
Hawaiians are permitted to maintain an “adequate supply” of medical marijuana. “Adequate supply” is defined as “an amount of marijuana jointly possessed between the qualifying patient and the primary caregiver (if one is needed) that is not more than is reasonably necessary to assure the uninterrupted availability of marijuana for the purpose of alleviating the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition; provided that an “adequate supply” does not exceed the statutory limitations.
Hawaii’s statutory medical marijuana limitations for possession and cultivation are as follows:
1. Three mature plants; and
2. Four immature plants; and
3. One ounce of usable marijuana per mature plant
Additionally, under the Hawaii state medical marijuana law, “marijuana concentrate” is defined as being identical to “marijuana” for medical purposes. Therefore, forms of concentrated cannabis such as hash, oils, edibles, and any other substances derived from marijuana are afforded the same protections as marijuana itself.
B. Consumption of Medical Marijuana
Under Hawaii law, the medical use of marijuana is prohibited under the following circumstances:
1. If it in any way that endangers the health or well-being of another person; or
2. In a school bus, public bus, or any moving vehicle;
3. In the workplace of one’s employment;
4. On any school grounds;
5. At any public park, public beach, public recreation center, recreation or youth center; or
6. In any correctional facility or other state monitored facility; or
7. Other place open to the public; and
8. The consumption of marijuana by a qualifying patient, parent, or primary caregiver for purposes other than for medical purposes.
C. Paraphernalia associated with medical use
Paraphernalia associated with the medical use of marijuana is permitted under Hawaii law. “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition.
D. Access to Medical Marijuana
The Hawaii state medical marijuana law does not provide any method for patients to receive medical marijuana. There is no place in the State of Hawaii to legally purchase medical marijuana. Qualified medical marijuana patients cannot go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marijuana. Pharmacies can only dispense medications that are “prescribed.”
Marijuana is currently classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug. This means that it cannot be “prescribed” by any health care professional. Federal law only allows doctors to “recommend” medical marijuana. Patients or their caregivers are allowed to grow medical marijuana only for the patient’s private use, but makes no provisions for a supply or source.
The State of Hawaii will not supply any registered patients or caregivers with seeds or starter plants, nor will they give any patients or caregivers any advice on how to grow medical marijuana.
E. Growing/Dispensing Collectives and Cooperatives
Hawaii does not provide for a legal means of supplying marijuana. Therefore, no license to grow or sell marijuana is available. The law does not address the issue of whether or not patients can form growing cooperatives. ASA recommends against patients and caregivers consulting with law enforcement before forming a growing cooperative.
Instead, ASA feels that pressure should be put on the State of Hawaii to allow for collective and cooperative operations. Additionally, ASA recommends that patient’s contact the following organizations for further information:
State registration program
Dept. of Public Safety
Americans for Safe access strongly recommends that any patients who are interested in forming a dispensing collective or cooperative consult an attorney before doing so.
Under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law, “Primary caregiver” means a person, other than the qualifying patient and the qualifying patient’s physician, who is eighteen years of age or older who has agreed to undertake responsibility for managing the well-being of the qualifying patient with respect to the medical use of marijuana. In the case of a minor or an adult lacking legal capacity, the primary caregiver shall be a parent, guardian, or person having legal custody.
If a patient so chooses, they may select one primary caregiver, who may legally grow, posses, and distribute to the patient marijuana as is medically necessary.
The patient’s primary caregiver must meet the following requirements:
1. Be at least 18 years of age;
2. Agree to undertake responsibility for managing the well-being of the qualifying patient with respect to the medical use of marijuana;
3. Not be the primary caregiver for any other patient
In order to register a primary caregiver, the patient should identify the primary caregiver on their registry application, and include a copy of the caregiver’s photo ID. Then, the primary caregivers shall register with the Department of Public Safety.
Each primary caregiver may be responsible for the care of only one qualifying patient at any given time.
Hawaii’s medical marijuana law does not specifically addresses the issue of housing rights for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. However, it is consistent with Hawaii law that patients shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for the medical use of marijuana.
Therefore, ASA believes that a patient’s or caregiver’s right to housing cannot be violated under state law. Unfortunately, patients in federally subsidized housing are still at risk for being penalized due to stringent regulations by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the fact that medical marijuana is not recognized under federal law.
Additionally, Hawaii does not protect the medical use of marijuana in any correctional facility or other state monitored facility.
The Hawaii medical marijuana law specifically does not require the accommodation of any medical use of marijuana in the workplace of one’s employer. Therefore, the issue of whether or not marijuana use is permissible at a place of employment is up to the discretion of the employer.
The additional issue of whether or not medical marijuana use outside of the place of employment is protected is not discussed. This includes any determination of issues involving drug testing and whether or not a qualified medical marijuana patient is protected from the consequences of a positive test for marijuana.
It is the position of Americans for Safe Access that this law protects patients from penalty, including loss of employment wages, for any conduct deemed lawful by the Hawaii state medical marijuana law with the exception of on-the-job consumption.
Hawaii Residents: Hawaii currently has no reciprocity agreements with other states to honor Hawaii’s medical marijuana law. This includes even those states that currently have medical marijuana laws of their own.
However, in Montana, medical marijuana patients from other states who are valid medical marijuana patients under that state’s law are protected under Section 4(8) of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act [Sec. 50-46-201(8), MCA]. A registry identification card or its equivalent issued by another state government to permit the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or to permit a person to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana has the same force and effect as a registry identification card issued by the Department of Public Health and Human Services in Montana. Therefore, medical marijuana patients from Hawaii should be protected in Montana under Montana state law. See the Montana Patients Guide for details on the protections and limitations that Montana state law affords medical marijuana patients.
Additionally, in Rhode Island, The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) protects patients and primary caregivers from outside Rhode Island who have a state issued medical marijuana ID card, or its equivalent. The MMA states, “A registry identification card, or its equivalent, issued under the laws of another state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia to permit the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient, or to permit a person to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana, shall have the same force and effect as a registry identification card issued by the department.” Therefore, medical marijuana patients from the other medical marijuana states that have state issued cards should be protected in the state of Rhode Island. See the Rhode Island Patients Guide for more information.
In states with no medical marijuana program, marijuana use, regardless of a doctor’s recommendation, is illegal. You may be arrested and charged with civil or criminal offenses in those states.
J. Law Enforcement
The rules and regulations governing the Hawaii Police Department concerning medical marijuana can be reviewed by clicking here. Under Hawaii’s medical marijuana law, marijuana, paraphernalia, or other property seized from a qualifying patient or primary caregiver in connection with a claimed medical use of marijuana must be returned immediately upon the determination by a court that the qualifying patient or primary caregiver is entitled to the protections of Hawaii’s medical marijuana law. These protections can be evidenced by a decision not to prosecute, dismissal of charges, or an acquittal. However, if law enforcement agencies seize live plants as evidence, the State of Hawaii is not responsible for the care and maintenance of those plants.
Additionally, no person shall be subject to arrest or prosecution for simply being in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marijuana as permitted under this part.
If a person fraudulently misrepresents to a law enforcement official any fact or circumstance relating to the medical use of marijuana to avoid arrest or prosecution they are liable for a petty misdemeanor and subject to a fine of $500. This penalty shall be in addition to any other penalties that may apply for the non-medical use of marijuana.
Any qualifying patient or primary caregiver not complying with the permitted scope of the medical use of marijuana will not be afforded the protections against searches and seizures pertaining to the misapplication of the medical use of marijuana.
The medical marijuana law for the state of Hawaii discusses the issue of patient confidentiality. The only section relevant to this issue states: “Upon an inquiry by a law enforcement agency, the department of public safety shall verify whether the particular qualifying patient has registered with the department and may provide reasonable access to the registry information for official law enforcement purposes.” If a patient has any questions regarding the confidentiality of their status as a medical marijuana patient, they should contact the Dept. of Public Safety at (808)-837-8470.