Is Cannabis Legal in Hawaii?

Although cannabis is illegal under federal law, some states have legalized its use for medicinal or recreational purposes. So, is cannabis legal in Hawaii? Read on to find out.

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In November 2000, Hawaii voters approved a statewide ballot initiative that legalized the use of medical cannabis. The law took effect on January 11, 2001. It allows patients with certain qualifying conditions to receive a medical cannabis card from the Hawaii Department of Health. Qualifying patients can then purchase cannabis from one of the state’s licensed dispensaries.

Possession and use of recreational cannabis remains illegal in Hawaii. However, a decriminalization bill was approved by the state legislature in 2019. Under the new law, possession of up to three grams of cannabis is punishable by a fine of up to $130, but is not considered a criminal offense.

Cultivation of cannabis for personal use is also still illegal in Hawaii. However, the state legislature has proposed several bills that would legalize home cultivation, including one that was approved by a Senate committee in 2019.

Though cannabis is illegal under federal law, states have the power to decriminalize or legalize cannabis as they see fit. In the state of Hawaii, cannabis is currently legal for medicinal purposes only. However, a bill was recently introduced that would legalize recreational cannabis in the state. let’s take a look at the current legal status of cannabis in Hawaii.

Federal Law

The federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that it is illegal to manufacture, possess, use, sell, or distribute cannabis in any capacity. The only exception to this is for products that contain only trace amounts of THC, which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. These products are classified as hemp and are legal at the federal level.

However, even though hemp is legal at the federal level, it is still illegal to cultivate or grow hemp in Hawaii without a license from the state government. This is because Hawaiian law classifies all cannabis plants as marijuana, regardless of their THC content.

State Law

The current state of the law regarding cannabis in Hawaii is that the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis is illegal. However, the state has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and has also legalized the use of medical cannabis. The state is currently working on a system to legalize and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis.

The Future of Cannabis Legalization in Hawaii

The future of cannabis legalization in Hawaii is looking promising. A bill was recently introduced in the state legislature that would legalize the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis. If the bill passes, it would make Hawaii the first state in the US to legalize cannabis.

The Possibility of Federal Legalization

Despite state-level cannabis legalization in 33 states and cannabis being legal for medical purposes in another 16 states, it remains a federally illegal Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This scheduling means that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers cannabis to have a high potential for abuse, no medical use, and Safety concerns. While this is the federal government’s official stance on cannabis, there are many indications that this could change in the near future.

In May of 2019, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on the topic of descheduling cannabis. This was the first time in history that Congress had held such a hearing and it featured expert testimony from those both in favor and opposed to changing federal cannabis policy. The fact that this hearing was convened at all is a significant step forward and indicates that there is a growing acceptance of cannabis at the federal level.

Following the hearing, several key members of Congress spoke out in support of descheduling cannabis. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), who chairs the subcommittee, said that he plans to introduce legislation to deschedule cannabis within the next few months. Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA), another member of the subcommittee, also voiced his support for descheduling and stated his intention to co-sponsor Cohen’s legislation. These statements from influential members of Congress suggest that there is bipartisan support for changing federal cannabis policy.

The possibility of federal legalization is not only supported by politicians but also by major players in the business world. In June of 2019, Yelp announced that it would start listing businesses that sell or distribute cannabis on its platform. Prior to this announcement, Yelp had taken a hands-off approach to listing businesses involved with cannabis due to its federally illegal status. However, Yelp’s new policy reflects changing attitudes towards cannabis and signifies that major corporations are beginning to accept it as a legitimate business.

Federal legalization would have a huge impact on Hawaii’s economy. Due to its isolation from the mainland United States, Hawaii is not currently served by any major interstate highways or railways. This makes it very difficult for businesses to transport goods to and from Hawaii which drives up costs for consumers. If cannabis were legalized at the federal level, Hawaii would have much easier access to outside markets which would lead to lower prices for consumers and increased profits for businesses

The Possibility of State Legalization

The future of cannabis legalization in Hawaii is unclear, but the state legislature is considering a bill that would make it legal for adults to possess and use small amounts of cannabis. The bill would also create a system of regulating and taxing commercial cannabis businesses.

If the bill passes, Hawaii would become the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis through the legislature, rather than through a voter-initiated ballot measure. The legislation faces opposition from some lawmakers and law enforcement officials, who say it would be difficult to enforce laws against illegal cannabis grow operations and sales.

Supporters of the bill argue that legalization would bring much-needed tax revenue to the state, as well as create jobs in the new industry. They say it would also allow police to focus on more serious crimes. It is unclear if the bill will have enough support to pass this year, but it is clear that the issue of cannabis legalization in Hawaii is far from settled.


No, cannabis is not currently legal in Hawaii for recreational use. The state does have a limited medical cannabis program, however, and is working towards implementing a fully legal cannabis industry.

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