Cannabis in Hawaii

Feb 13, 2018 | General Information

Table of Contents
Hawaii has its own unique cannabis history. The Hawaiian language term for cannabis is pakalolo (crazy or numbing tobacco). This term first appeared in a Hawaiian newspaper as early as 1842. In fact, Hawaii is famous for its cannabis. Many strains of cannabis have been developed locally. The Big Island grew most of Hawaii’s marijuana crop. Federal, state and Big Island law enforcement agencies collaborated to destroy cannabis crops as part of the Feds “War on Drugs” in the 1980s. Massive amounts of marijuana were destroyed in Hawaii. But in 2000 Hawaii became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana.

In January 2020 Hawaii became the 26th state to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Possession of 3 grams or less of marijuana will only be punishable by fines of no more than $130. 3 grams is the smallest amount of any state that has decriminalized possession. But that’s not the end of the story about what Hawaii intends to do to ease business distribution and consumer use of marijuana.

Numerous bills have been filed in Hawaii’s legislature that could have a dramatic impact on the marijuana industry in the Aloha state. In 2015 the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program of Hawaii was created to cover requirements for using marijuana for medical purposes. Since then other laws and regulations in Hawaii have been approved to address legal acquisition of cannabis.

Hawaii established a statewide dispensary system in 2016. Several bills in Hawaii aim to improve and clarify the state’s marijuana dispensary system. These bills would allow dispensaries to sell hemp products, cannabis cuttings, seeds, and edible products. Another bill would allow naturopathic physicians to certify medical marijuana patients. The 2020 general election in Hawaii may include asking the electorate if it wishes to fully legalize recreational cannabis in the state.The push for legalization of marijuana use throughout Hawaii remains controversial.

Legislators seem determined to allow Hawaii to develop a hemp industry. In 2017 the Hawaii House of Representatives Agricultural Committee passed legislation to remove criminal or civil sanctions for the “planting, growing, harvesting, possessing, processing, selling, or buying” of industrial hemp. However, last year Hawaii’s governor vetoed hemp bills that passed in the state’s House and the Senate. Hawaii currently has an industrial hemp pilot program for research purposes.