Hawaii decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana for January 2020
A bill legalizing the use of recreational marijuana was signed into Illinois law. Veuer’s Justin Kircher has the details. Buzz60
Hawaii has become the 26th state to decriminalize possession of marijuana, a measure that will take effect Jan. 11, 2020.
The new law will eliminate criminal penalties for possession of three grams or less of marijuana. Possession of those small amounts will only be punishable by fines of no more than $130.
According to the Marijuana Police Project, three grams is the smallest amount of any state that has decriminalized possession.
In a June press conference, Democratic Gov. David Ige said the decision was “a very tough call” on which he went back and forth before ultimately deciding in favor of decriminalization by supporting House Bill 1383.
Ige previously opposed bills this year that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Law enforcement officials told Ige 3 grams is small enough amount that “essentially they will proceed the way they always have,” the governor said.
Hawaii’s current law says possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is punishable by 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to NORML. Three grams of marijuana is equal to .11 ounces.
The state legalized medical cannabis in 2000, but dispensary sales began just two years ago. A new medical marijuana dispensary, Hawaiian Ethos, just began sales in Kailua-Kona late June. It’s the second dispensary to open on the Hawaii Island, the first opening in August 2017.
Contributing: Associated Press
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT
The measure will eliminate criminal penalties for possession of three grams or less of marijuana.
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Is Weed Legal in Hawaii?
In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to pass a medical marijuana bill through the legislative process – the previous six states had all used the ballot method. Medical marijuana is available to individuals with qualifying conditions and can also be purchased by registered caregivers. It is also legal for patients to grow their own marijuana, and out of state patients are allowed to apply for temporary access to Hawaii medical dispensaries.
While Hawaii does have a medical marijuana program, the recreational use of marijuana is still illegal. It was decriminalized in 2019 via House Bill 1383, but this only means that smaller offenses are not punishable by jail time or large fines. Because Hawaii lacks the voter initiative process that most other states possess, it is up to lawmakers to create future legalization bills. The most recent attempt was in 2019, but it did not make it through the legislative process quickly enough to be properly executed. There have not been legitimate discussions for a new legalization bill since. This will hopefully change in upcoming years, at which time we will update this page to reflect the newest laws and regulations.
Buying Marijuana in Hawaii
You may only legally purchase medical marijuana from one of the state-registered dispensaries if you are a patient of the Medical Cannabis Registry Program. There are currently 8 state-registered distributors with a total of 13 dispensaries (more are planning to open soon). There are 5 on the Island of Hawaii, 5 on Oahu, 2 on Maui, and 1 on Kauai. Because the inter-island transport of marijuana is illegal, there are no available delivery services, and not every island has a dispensary, note that it is possible to register for the medical marijuana program and grow your own marijuana plants (see the Growing Marijuana on Hawaii section for more details).
Buying Marijuana at a Retail Location
When you visit one of Hawaii’s medical dispensaries, you must have government-issued identification and your valid 329 Registration Card present. You must also be 18-years or older (or have a legal guardian with you if you are a registered minor patient), be registered with the Hawaii Department of Health database before the visit, and refrain from cell phone use while in the dispensary.
Using a Marijuana Delivery Service
There are currently no marijuana delivery services available in Hawaii, be it directly through the dispensaries or via third-party operations. We will continue to update this section as new services are added.
Hours of operation vary by the dispensary, but all stores open between 9:00 – 11:00 am and close between 5:00 – 7:00 pm, with varying weekend hours. Be sure to check out wheresweed.com to check each dispensary’s hours!
A registered patient and their caregiver cannot jointly purchase more than 4 ounces of marijuana within a fifteen-day period (8 ounces within a 30-day period). There are currently no restrictions based on type – a patient may buy a combination of products, so long as it does not exceed the bi-weekly limit. 4 ounces is also the medical marijuana possession limit – having more than this on your person at any given time is illegal.
Fortunately for all medical marijuana patients in Hawaii, the state does not limit any available consumption methods. Almost all 13 dispensaries offer a wide range of marijuana products; and unlike a lot of other medical-only states, Hawaii dispensaries don’t cut back on THC levels. There is plenty of flower to choose from, including indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. Both reusable and disposable vape pens can be found, along with concentrates (rosin, wax, shatter), edibles (gummies, pills, lozenges), and topicals (balms, gels, oils). Every menu is different, even if stores are owned by the same distributor, so make sure to check out what’s available online. Most every store offers online pre-ordering and curbside pickup, with up-to-date menus on their website.
Taxes on Marijuana in Hawaii
Taxes on Recreational Marijuana in Hawaii
Because Hawaii has yet to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, there are currently no taxes related to recreational purchases. As Hawaii develops its marijuana laws and increases legalization, we will update this section to mirror new tax codes.
Taxes on Medical Marijuana in Hawaii
Compared to many other states, Hawaii’s taxes on medical cannabis are relatively low. On the island of Oahu, there is a 4.5% generic excise tax; however, every other island that sells marijuana (Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai) only has a 4.0% generic excise tax.
In July 2019, Hawaii passed HB 1383 to become the 26 th state to decriminalize marijuana. While the possession of smaller amounts of marijuana is no longer a misdemeanor and not punishable by jail time, it only covers possession of very small amounts (up to 3 grams). Those found possessing larger quantities of marijuana may still be subject to a heavy fine and unfortunately long jail time. It’s also important to note that decriminalization does not mean legalization (you may only legally carry up to 4 ounces of marijuana if you are registered medical marijuana patient). The current penalties for marijuana possession in Hawaii are as follows:
Possession for Personal Use:
- Less than 3 grams: charged as a violation with no jail time and a max fine of $130
- 3 grams to 1 ounce: charged as a misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail and a max fine of $1,000
- 1 ounce to 1 pound: charged as a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail and a max fine of $2,000
- More than 1 pound: charged as a felony with up to 5 years in jail and a max fine of $10,000
Possession with Intent to Sell:
- Less than 1 ounce: charged as a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail and a max fine of $2,000
- 1 ounce to 1 pound: charged as a felony with up to 5 years in jail and a max fine of $10,000
- 1 to 5 pounds: charged as a felony with up to 10 years in jail and a max fine of $25,000
- More than 5 pounds: charged as a felony with up to 20 years in jail and a max fine of $50,000
Please note that the sale and use of marijuana (regardless of medical status or amount) within 750 feet of school grounds or park will result in a felony with up to five years in jail and a max fine of $10,000. Additionally, cultivation is a felony with heavy fines and prison time, as is the use or sale of paraphernalia.
Using Marijuana in Hawaii
Unless you are a registered medical marijuana patient with a Hawaii 329 Registration Card, you cannot use marijuana anywhere in Hawaii. If you are a patient, you are only allowed to use cannabis in specific places, as is outlined below.
Areas in Hawaii that DO NOT allow the use of marijuana:
- Public parks and beaches
- School grounds
- In any moving vehicle
- School or public buses
- In your place of employment
- Government-owned or occupied property
Areas in Hawaii that DO allow the use of marijuana:
- Private residence (personal or other, so long as the owner give’s consent)
- Private grounds (i.e. backyard), so long as it’s not within view of the public
Unlike other states that allow the use of non-smokable cannabis in various public places, Hawaii strictly prohibits the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, and transporting of any cannabis and paraphernalia in all public places. Keep possession and use of medical cannabis limited to private property out of public sight.
Additionally, smoking anywhere that might cause a public place to become aware of your smoking is illegal under the state’s comprehensive “smoke-free” laws. While in Hawaii, follow the law and be incredibly considerate to others in or around public spaces.
Smoking on Federal Lands
Despite being legal in Hawaii, medical cannabis (as with all forms of marijuana) is federally illegal. Therefore, it is prohibited to use or possess any type of cannabis on federal land. This is especially important in Hawaii since the state has many different national parks and trails. It is prohibited to use or possess marijuana in places like Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Kalaupapa National Historic Park, and the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. If you are caught using or possessing marijuana on federal property, you will be subject to federal law.
Medical Marijuana in Hawaii
Hawaii has had a medical marijuana program for over 20 years. In 2000, not only did Hawaii become the seventh state to legalize medical marijuana, but it became the first state to legalize it through a legislative process (as opposed to the ballot system).
As a citizen of Hawaii, you can apply to be part of the Medical Cannabis Registry Program, if you have one of these qualifying conditions: Cancer, Glaucoma, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Epilepsy, MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, HIV/AIDS, or PTSD. You may also qualify if you have a condition that causes one of the following symptoms that hasn’t been successfully managed by other treatments: Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome, severe pain, nausea, seizures, or muscle spasms (including those characteristics of MS or Crohn’s disease).
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Hawaii
The Hawaii medical marijuana card is called the Hawaii 329 Registration Card, and it is digitally accessed. To obtain a 329 Registration Card, an individual must have one of the qualifying conditions as stated above and complete the online application process. The application process is as follows:
- Schedule an appointment with your medical provider and have them confirm you qualify and would benefit from the medical marijuana program
- Create an ehawaii.gov account
- Fill out the online application, wherein you will also provide a valid driver’s license, a state-issued photo identification card, or a valid passport
- This is where you will fill out the Grow Site Certification Form, if applicable
- Pay the registration fee of $38.20
- Submit your completed application to your medical provider, who will then need to certify your condition and submit the application to the Hawaii Department of Health.
Out of State Medical Cards
Visitors that possess a government-issued Medical Cannabis Registration Card from another state are allowed to apply for a temporary Hawaii 329 Registration Card. Out of state patients can apply for two 60-day terms within a calendar year – during a temporary card’s term, that patient will be allowed to access medical marijuana through Hawaii’s dispensaries as if they were a Hawaii patient. The application process is nearly identical to the in-state process, includes a $49.50 non-refundable fee, and provides the patient with electronic access to their Hawaii registration card for a 60-day term of their choosing.
How to Transport Marijuana in Hawaii
Transporting Marijuana in Hawaii
It is only legal to transport marijuana in Hawaii if you are a registered patient and possess no more than the state limit of 4 ounces. If you are transporting marijuana, it must be in a sealed container out of sight from the public (regardless of it’s on your person or in a vehicle). Additionally, inter-island transport of marijuana, even for registered patients and caregivers, is illegal. You cannot buy marijuana on one island and transport it to another.
Driving While Under the Influence of Marijuana
Individuals, regardless of recreational or medical use, will be guilty of DUI if found operating any vehicle while under the influence of any drug (including marijuana). If an individual refuses to take a breath or blood test, they will have their license suspended for twelve months (for the first occurrence). Subsequent test refusals will result in suspension between 2 and 5 years.
Driving Across State Lines with Marijuana
Regardless of state legal status, it is technically illegal to transport marijuana across state lines (even if you have a valid medical cannabis ID). However, seeing that Hawaii is inaccessible by car, this is not applicable. So, please note that it is illegal to fly out of Hawaii with marijuana (recreational and medical). If you are caught in possession of marijuana at an airport, it will be confiscated and you will be handed over to authorities.
Growing Marijuana in Hawaii
As with every other aspect of recreational cannabis in Hawaii, growing marijuana without being a registered medical marijuana patient is illegal. If you are a registered patient of the Medical Cannabis Registry Program and you indicated intent to grow marijuana on your application, you can legally grow an “adequate supply” of medical marijuana. An adequate supply cannot exceed ten plants or result in the possession of more than 4 ounces of usable cannabis (jointly between a registered patient and caregiver) at any given time.
Plants can only be grown in the residence of a qualified patient or caregiver, or at a location that is owned or controlled by a qualifying patient or caregiver. Patients are only allowed one “grow site.” Additionally, to be protected against cultivation laws, your grow site must appear on your 329 Card. You can do this by either adding your intent on your initial application or by changing your profile online if you’re already registered.
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