Is Cannabis Legal in Hawaii?

Weed isn’t legal in Hawaii for recreational use, but it has a strong medical marijuana program and possession of up to 3 g is decriminalized.

Written by

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over 10 years. He has a MS in Theoretical Physics from Uppsala...

CBD Oracle's Editorial Process
Map of marijuana legality in Hawaii
Illustration: Layla Selestrini / CBD Oracle
Advertisement for THCA flower

Key Takeaways

  • Medical vs. recreational use: In Hawaii, medical marijuana is legal, allowing possession and purchase for those with a qualifying condition or an out-of-state medical marijuana card. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, although possession of up to 3 grams is decriminalized with a $130 fine.
  • Penalties for possession: Possessing more than 3 grams but less than an ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Future outlook: While legalization efforts are ongoing, including bills to establish a regulated adult-use market, they face hurdles such as budgetary concerns and public safety issues.

Weed is not legal for recreational purposes in Hawaii, but possession of small amounts of marijuana is decriminalized and the Hawaii medical marijuana program is pretty robust and liberal.

If you have a qualifying condition or a medical marijuana card from another state, you can legally possess and purchase up to four ounces of weed in Hawaii.

Otherwise, the only leniency is for possession of up to 3 grams, which just carries a $130 fine if you’re caught.

You can legally buy weed for medical purposes but not recreational purposes in Hawaii.

However, possession of up to 3 grams is decriminalized and only punished with a fine.

Recreational weed is not legal in Hawaii.

While there have been efforts to establish state-level Hawaii weed legalization or expand decriminalization in 2024, none of these have been successful, so non-medical marijuana is still illegal in the state.

Penalties for Possession

With the weed laws in Hawaii not allowing recreational use, there are punishments for possession.

However, HB 1383, passed in 2019, drastically reduced the penalty for very small amounts and also established a task force intended to recommend changes to how marijuana violations are treated in the state.

The punishments for weed possession in Hawaii, after the passage of HB 1383, are as follows:

  • For up to 3 grams of marijuana, the only punishment is a fine of $130.
  • For more than 3 grams but less than an ounce, it’s considered a misdemeanor, with a punishment of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • For more than an ounce but less than a pound, it’s considered a misdemeanor, with a punishment of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Possessing over a pound of marijuana is considered a felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Medical marijuana is legal in Hawaii and has been since 2000, when Act 228 was passed.

However, for many years, the only way for medical patients to obtain it was to grow it for personal use.

The Medical Cannabis Registry Program was transferred to the Hawaii Department of Health in 2015, and the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program didn’t get going until 2016.

The first sale at an actual dispensary took place in 2017.

Patient Possession Limits in Hawaii

Act 178, passed in 2013, established the weed possession limits in Hawaii for medical patients.

This states that a patient and his or her caregiver (where appropriate) can possess up to 4 ounces of usable cannabis in addition to growing up to 10 plants.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s medical marijuana card is called the Hawaii 329 card (named after the chapter of Hawaii’s revised statutes that was edited by Act 228).

This law is pretty relaxed in comparison to some other states since Hawaii also offers reciprocity for out-of-state medical marijuana patients, and you don’t need to be a resident of the state to obtain a 329 card.

The process for getting your Hawaii 329 card starts with a visit to a doctor or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and getting diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Lupus
  • Muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain
  • Patients or physicians can petition the DOH to add new conditions. 

Your practitioner can then certify that you have a qualifying condition, and then you can register for an online account at the Medical Cannabis Registry.

You then need to provide some government-issued ID and designate a caregiver (if appropriate) and submit your application online. There is a fee of $38.50 for a one-year card and $77 for a two-year card (allowed with some conditions). Then, once you’re approved, you can print or save your card and start using it.

Can You Consume in Public?

With no recreational marijuana program, it is not permitted to smoke weed in public in Hawaii.

Even for medical patients, you are only allowed to consume in private and provided the location isn’t designated as smoke-free.

If you are a registered medical patient, you won’t get in trouble for having the cannabis in your possession (provided it is in a sealed container and not visible to the public), but the smoke-free laws (page 15/section §328J-12(a)) institute a fine of up $50 for violation and more if you don’t appear to a summons. 

Can You Drive Under the Influence?

Driving under the influence of marijuana is considered a DUI in Hawaii, with lawmakers yet to establish a legal limit in the manner done by states such as Colorado.

This means that driving with any amount of THC in your system is breaking the law.

There is an implied consent law in Hawaii, so by driving in the state you have already consented to breath, blood, or urine tests for a DUI, and if you refuse, you’ll have your license suspended for a year.

For the DUI itself, the penalties are:

  • For a first offense, your license is revoked for 1 year, you have to attend a 14-hour rehabilitation program and you may also be sentenced to 72 hours of community service, 48 hours to five days in jail, and between $250 and $1,000 in fines. 
  • For a second offense (within the last 10 years), your license will be revoked for two to three years, you’ll receive a fine of between $1,000 and $3,000, and receive either 5 to 30 days in jail or up to 240 hours of community service. You will also have to attend a 36 hour substance abuse treatment program and have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicles you operate.

There are additional punishments if you have someone aged under 15 in the car with you, or if you’re considered “highly intoxicated.”

Delta-8 THC is not legal in Hawaii.

While the state legalized hemp using the same language as the Farm Bill through HB 2689, administrative rules passed in April 2022 (section §11-37-3(h)(12)/page 14) make it illegal to sell any cannabinoid “created through isomerization” and list delta-8 THC by name.

This is an effective ban because all delta-8 THC is created this way from CBD.

Even before these rules had passed, the state had already banned smokable hemp and most edible forms too, which already prevented most delta-8 THC products from being sold in the state. 

RELATED: Where Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A State-by-State Map

Is Weed Decriminalized in Hawaii?

Weed is decriminalized in Hawaii, but only for very small amounts.

If you’re caught with less than 3 g of cannabis in the state, you can only receive a $130 fine.

This means that cannabis is decriminalized in Hawaii but with strong limitations, and any larger amounts – frankly, most realistic amounts people would possess, even an eighth – are treated as a criminal offense.

You’ve been allowed to grow weed in Hawaii since 2000 when the state passed its medical marijuana law.

However, the rules around growing weed have changed a little since the law was first introduced, and medical marijuana patients in Hawaii are allowed to grow up to 10 plants legally.

Unlike many other state laws, it doesn’t matter whether the plants are mature or immature in Hawaii’s medical marijuana law – 10 plants in any stage of development are allowed.

Of course, if you don’t have the Hawaii 329 card, then it is illegal to grow cannabis.

Hawaii lawmakers are continuously pushing bills that aim to either legalize recreational cannabis or expand the existing decriminalization.

Two bills from 2024 show how things are progressing pretty clearly, as well as the hurdles still standing in the way of such proposals. 

SB 3335 would have legalized cannabis and set up a regulated adult-use market. While it got further through the process than any other legalization bill has in the past, it ran into budgetary issues, as well as concerns about implementation and the impact it would have had on children and “overall well-being.” House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita called it a “deeply divisive issue.”

The other bill, SB 2487, would have made it so that up to one ounce of cannabis was decriminalized, and it would have also decreased the fine for violations to just $25. This bill was rejected by the Senate, with opponents citing concerns about youth access, black market sales, increased automobile accidents, and even the possibility it would discourage Asian tourists from visiting. 

Despite a lot of appetite for legal weed from some politicians and public support for the legalization bill, there are clearly a lot of issues to iron out and problems to be tackled before Hawaii legalizes cannabis.

However, there have been many attempts in recent years, and it’s unlikely to take much longer before one of these bills finally lands on the governor’s desk. 

Conclusion

So, weed isn’t legal in Hawaii… yet. But with legalization proposals coming with each legislative session, an increasingly liberal medical program, and decriminalization for small amounts, the situation for stoners in Hawaii is pretty good already.

If you have a medical marijuana card in Hawaii – or indeed one from another state – you can have four ounces legally, and at the very least, decriminalization of larger amounts than just 3 g seems just on the horizon.