While adult-use cannabis remains illegal in Hawaii, the state has been at the forefront of medical cannabis legalization since the passage of Act 228 in 2000. This legislation decriminalized the possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes. Patients are required to meet specific statutory criteria, including having a debilitating medical condition, and register with the state's Medical Cannabis Registry Program. Subsequent acts, such as Act 241 in 2015, established the “Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program,” setting forth regulations and licensing procedures for cannabis dispensaries. Acts like Act 242 in the same year provided additional protections for patients and caregivers, demonstrating Hawaii's evolving stance on cannabis.
Noteworthy developments include Act 170 in 2017, which replaced the term “marijuana” with “cannabis” to combat racial stereotypes, and Act 116 in 2018, allowing telehealth for bona fide provider-patient relationships. Although efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis have faced challenges, the recent passage of HB 2260 in July 2022 reflects the state's ongoing commitment to cannabis reform. This bill facilitates interdispensary transactions, allows interisland transportation under specific conditions, and expands cultivation opportunities. Hawaii's nuanced approach underscores a progressive trajectory toward cannabis normalization, poised for potential advancements in the future.
Cannabis License Types in Hawaii
The initial application period for Hawaii state cannabis licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries concluded on January 29, 2016, resulting in the issuance of 8 licenses. Currently, there is no indication from the state regarding the issuance of new licenses in the near future. Prospective expansion of cannabis licensing in Hawaii is anticipated to hinge on the enactment of adult-use legislation. The 8 existing licensed dispensaries are authorized to engage in cultivation, processing, distribution, and sales exclusively to medically licensed patients. The allocation of licenses is island-size-dependent, reflecting a tailored approach to accommodate regional needs. Eligibility for a Hawaii state cannabis license required applicants to have at least 51% ownership by a resident of Hawaii for a minimum of 5 years preceding the application submission.
A Hawaii state cannabis license empowers the licensee to establish two production facilities and two dispensary locations. Licensing fees associated with Hawaii state cannabis licenses are as follows: an Initial License Fee of $75,000, a License Renewal Fee of $50,000, Testing Lab Certification at $3,000, and Testing Lab Renewal at $3,000. These fees contribute to the regulatory framework ensuring the responsible and compliant operation of cannabis-related activities in the state.
Here are links to forms that may be needed for license application:
- Declaration of Possession of State and County Permits, Licenses, and Exemptions
- Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response (HEER), Sanitation Regulatory Requirements, and Environmental Health Administration Table of Contacts Environmental health and other regulations required under dispensary licenses.
- Medical Cannabis Testing Facility Application–
- Instructions For Applicant or Employee Background Checks
- Consent Form For Applicant or Employee Background Checks
- Dispensary Frequently Asked Questions