By Pace LaVia • August 12, 2019

Hawaii Cannabis Regulations: License Applications, Forms, Links, and Other Resources

This document was created for entrepreneurs and managers who are operating or considering operating a cannabis-related business in the state of Hawaii. 

It includes basic but important information on the topic, plus a comprehensive list of resources related to Hawaii’s cannabis regulations, market structure, and licensing process including links to Hawaii dispensary license application forms. 

Overview of Hawaii Medical Marijuana Program

Pakalolo, as native Hawaiians called the cannabis plant, has had a place in medicine and culture on the island state of Hawaii for centuries — long before Hawaii became a U.S. state. Roughly translated, the term means “crazy tobacco. In the early-mid 20th Century, in an effort to curb the use of marijuana in the state, lawmakers made cannabis illegal across the board.

Today, Hawaii has a burgeoning medical marijuana program including a reciprocation program allowing out-of-state visitors to purchase their medicine while visiting the islands. Hawaii has also decriminalized marijuana and is on the verge of repealing prohibition altogether and instituting an adult recreational-use cannabis market in the state.

Nation’s First Legislated Medical Marijuana Program

In 2000, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to enact a medical marijuana program via an act of the legislature rather than a voter initiative. Act 228, aka The Medical Cannabis Registry Program, allowed medical marijuana patients and their caretakers to acquire a license from the state that permits them to grow their own cannabis for medicinal use (Hawaii Revised Statutes part IX, Chapter 329). 

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program

It would be another 15 years before the state established a dispensary program for the commercial production and sale of marijuana and cannabinoid-infused products. 

In 2015, Act 241, aka The Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program was passed and signed. Under the legislation, the Hawaii Department of Health became responsible for administering both a Medical Cannabis Registry Program and a Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program.

The licensing and oversight of dispensaries is the responsibility of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance. The agency is also accountable for monitoring the quality of medical cannabis products statewide as well as oversight of cannabis testing laboratories.

The law requires that medical marijuana patients obtain the approval of a licensed physician who will attest that the patient’s medical condition can be improved with the therapeutic use of cannabis. Approved patients are issued a “329” Registration Card by the Department of Health. 

Dispensaries began producing medical marijuana in late 2016 after Senate Bill 321 officially established a dispensary system. Under the new regulations, eight dispensary licenses were up for grabs. Then in August 2017, the first medical marijuana dispensary opened on the island of Maui.

Although all eight of the allotted Hawaii medical cannabis dispensary licenses have been awarded, the push is on in Hawaii to end the prohibition of cannabis altogether and legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults. If this happens there will likely be additional opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs in Hawaii. 

Hawaii Industrial Hemp Laws

On a side note, in July 2016, Act 228 established an industrial hemp pilot program under the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to facilitate the cultivation of industrial hemp for agricultural or academic research. 

Then in February 2017, the Hawaii House of Representatives Agricultural Committee voted to officially legalize the "planting, growing, harvesting, possessing, processing, selling, or buying" of industrial hemp. 

Hawaii CBD Rules

In this article, we’re focusing on marijuana and cannabinoid-infused products. However, some dispensaries produce THC-free cannabis oils which fall under the definition of CBD. 

These are the state’s CBD rules according to the Hawaii Department of Health.

  • Hawaii CBD laws prohibit adding any cannabis-derived substances to food, beverages or cosmetics for manufacture, distribution or sale. 
  • CBD may not be sold as a “dietary supplement.”
  • CBD may not be marketed by asserting health claims because that would constitute prohibited misbranding or false advertising.

Hawaii Marijuana Decriminalization

In the summer of 2019, Hawaii legislators decriminalized cannabis under Bill HB1383. The measure decriminalizes possession of under 3 grams of marijuana, the smallest limit of any state decriminalization, removes the possibility of spending time in jail, and establishes a $130 ticket. 

The possession of more than three grams is still a crime subject to arrest and potential jail time. Moreover, the law also provides retroactive expungement for individuals with similar past possession offenses and also creates a task force to study other states' cannabis laws. The decriminalization measures will take effect on January 11, 2020.

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Reciprocation Program

On July 10, 2018, HB 2729, an interstate reciprocity bill was signed into law allowing registered medical marijuana patients in other states to purchase their medicine while visiting Hawaii. 

In order to take advantage of the program, travelers will need more than just their state-issued medical marijuana card. Rather, under the measure, non-residents may apply for a Hawaii card if they suffer from any of Hawaii’s qualifying medical conditions. Qualifying conditions in Hawaii include AIDS, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and PTSD. The card permits holders to purchase up to 4 ounces of marijuana and is good for 60 days from the date of issue.

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Laws and Regulations

Medical Cannabis Laws and Rules

Act 228 SLH 2000 – Hawaii’s initial Medical Use of Cannabis law.

Chapter 329 HRS-Hawaii’s Uniformed Controlled Substances Act (See Part IX – Medical Use of Cannabis).

Act 178 SLH  2013 – Makes several changes to the current law (such as: “adequate supply” of medical cannabis changes to 7 plants, regardless of maturity; useable cannabis changes to 4 oz; increase in registration fees from $25 to $35; and other changes) please read Act 178 for more information.

Hawaii Dispensary Laws and Regulations

HB 2707 CD1 – Makes many clarifying changes to other existing laws . HB 2707 CD1 is currently pending Governors approval and if approved, changes will become effective as of July 1, 2016.

Chapter 11-160, HRS – DOH Administrative Rules for the Medical Use of Cannabis and the Medical Cannabis Registry.

Chapter 329D, HRS– Medical Cannabis Dispensary Law. Dispensary system provides for the establishment of dispensaries in the state of Hawaii and also amends other existing laws with respect to the medical use of cannabis.

Chapter 11-850 HAR– DOH Administrative Rules for the Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.

Act 242 SLH 2015 – Adds non-discriminatory language to existing laws as it may pertain to the medical use of cannabis.

Chapter 328J HRS– Hawaii’s Smoke Free Law

U.S. Department of Justice Memorandum for All United States Attorneys issued by James M. Cole Re: Guidance Regarding Cannabis Enforcement Policy  issued August 29, 2013.

U.S. Department of Justice “Formal Medical Cannabis Guidelines”  Oct. 9, 2009.

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Registry Laws and Rules

Act 116 SLH 2018 – Makes several changes to the current law:

  1. Extends the validity of the certification with the concurrence of the patient and patient’s physician/APRN.
  2. Safe Pulmonary Administration (SPA) products have been added to the list of approved “merch” licensed medical cannabis retail dispensaries may sell to qualifying patients.
  3. Patients who are registered for medical cannabis use in other states may be able to benefit from our program while visiting the islands.
  4. One or both parents/guardians are now allowed to register as caregivers for one or more qualifying minor patients.
  5. The bona fide provider-patient relationship may continue via telehealth after the relationship has been established by a face-to-face consultation.

Act 170 SLH 2017 – amends all references to Medical “Marijuana” to read Medical “Cannabis” in chapter 329 D, part IX of chapter 329, and sections 46-4, 201-13.9, 209E-2, 235-2.4, 237-24.3, 304A-1865, 321-30.1, 329-43.5, 421J-16, 453-1.3, 514A-88.5, 514B-113, 521-39, and 846-2.7 AND in Title 11 HAR (11-160 and 11-850). Change in language (documents, letterhead, websites, etc.) must be complete by 12/31/2019.

Act 041 SLH 2017 – amends part IX chapter 329 (Registry Program) and chapter 329 D (Dispensary Program). Effective 6/29/2017.

Act 230 SLH 2016 – Clarifies various medical cannabis laws in the state of Hawaii.

Act 242 SLH 2015 – Adds non-discriminatory language to existing laws as it may pertain to the medical use of cannabis.

Act 241 SLH 2015 – Hawaii’s Dispensary law that paves the way for the establishment of dispensaries in the state of Hawaii and also amends other existing laws with respect to the medical use of cannabis.

Act 178 SLH  2013 – Makes several changes to the current law (such as: “adequate supply” of medical cannabis changes to 7 plants, regardless of maturity; useable cannabis changes to 4 oz; increase in registration fees from $25 to $35; and other changes) please read Act 178 for more information.

Act 228 SLH 2000 – Hawaii’s initial Medical Use of Cannabis law.

Hawaii DOH Administrative Rules

Chapter 11-160, HAR – DOH Administrative Rules for the medical use of cannabis (Registry Program).

Chapter 11-160-56, HAR, Amendments to Confidential Information provides for exceptions to allow DOH to disclose certain registration information to authorized persons associated with medical cannabis dispensary system and federal law enforcement officials for official law enforcement purposes. (Dispensary Program)

Other Applicable Hawaii Revised Statutes – note, the links below are direct to the Hawaii State Legislature.  Any NEW legislative action, or actions that change existing laws, will not be reflected until November (ish) of the same year.

  • HRS 329 Hawaii’s Uniformed Controlled Substances Act (part IX – Medical Use of Cannabis – begins with §329-121 and is specific to the Medical Cannabis Registry).
  • HRS 329D Hawaii’s Medical Cannabis Dispensary Law
  • HRS328J Hawaii’s Smoke Free Law – all of which are directly applicable to smoking or vaping cannabis
  • HRS 712 – Please read applicable sections of this law for the most current information pertaining to consequences for the possession and cultivation of cannabis that fall outside of  (and are not protected under) the medical cannabis program. This Summary Article may help as it pertains to Cannabis Laws in Hawaii – Disclaimer: DOH does not endorse this site.  This link is being provided as a courtesy to help summarize parts of HRS 712 that may be applicable to individuals that are not compliant with the medical cannabis registry program and assist you further in researching applicable laws.
  • HRS 712-1247 – Promotion in the first degree – cultivating 25 – 49 plants = class C felony.
  • HRS 712-1248 – Promotion in the second degree – possession of once ounce+ of cannabis = misdemeanor.
  • HRS 712-1249 – Promotion in the third degree – possession of any cannabis (and not registered) = petty misdemeanor.
  • HRS 712-1249.4 – Commercial promotion in the first degree – possession of 25+ lbs of cannabis; distribution of 5+lbs of cannabis; possess, cultivate or under ones control 100+ plants; cultivation of 25+ plants on land owned by another person w/o permission; = class A felony.
  • HRS 712-1249.5 – Commercial promotion in the second degree – possession of 2+lbs of cannabis; distribution of 1+lb of cannabis; possess, cultivate or under ones control 50+ plants; cultivation of any cannabis on land owned by other person w/o express permission or the legal right to occupy the land; = class B felony.
  • HRS 712-1249.6 -Commercial promotion in the third degree = class C felony.

Hawaii Cannabis Industry Rules and Regulations

Below is a bulleted list of answers to some of the most common questions related to Hawaii cannabis regulations. Please note that some of these rules have been revised since this list was published. 

  • Age requirements - Adults 21 years of age or older without a disqualifying criminal history who meet the other legal requirements of chapter 329D, HRS, and who are qualified by the department for a license may own a dispensary. 
  • Application fee - Applicants for a dispensary license must fill out an application form and submit supporting documentation and a nonrefundable application fee of $5,000. 
  • Financial resource requirements - An application has to indicate that the applicants have resources in the amount of $1,000,000, plus a minimum of $100,000 for each retail dispensing location the applicant would like to operate. If the funds available at the time of verification do not meet the minimum requirements, your application will be rejected. 
  • Retail location limits - Originally, dispensary licensees were permitted to operate two retail dispensing locations. The number was recently increased to three. 
  • Production requirements - The law requires dispensary facilities to be enclosed indoor facilities, and that the interior not be visible from outside. Outdoor growing is prohibited. 
  • Permitted products - Permitted manufactured marijuana products are limited to capsules, lozenges, oil or oil extract, tinctures, ointments, skin lotions, or pills. “Edibles” aside from lozenges are not permitted. Dispensaries are not permitted to sell marijuana in a ready-to-smoke form (pre-rolls). The sale of smoking paraphernalia is also prohibited. 
  • Advertising prohibition - Dispensaries cannot advertise but can maintain a website with contact information and the location of its retail dispensing locations, as well as the same information about the products it sells that is found on the labels of the products. All other advertising is prohibited. 

Hawaii Medical Cannabis License Forms and Instructions

Below are links to Hawaii medical cannabis dispensary license application forms as well as background check forms and application instructions. 


Hawaii Cannabis Industry Banking

Below are links to information on banking for Hawaii cannabis businesses.

Additional Hawaii Medical Cannabis Regulations Links and Resources

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

Hawaii County

Kauai County

Honolulu County

Maui County

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Dispensary License Applications

Below are the actual license applications. These are public record and may be useful for anyone who may be applying for a license in the future. 

City & County Of Honolulu

County Of Hawaii

Country Of Maui

County Of Kauai

Medical Cannabis Registry Program Links

Below are links to information regarding registering as a medical cannabis patient in the state of Hawaii. 


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