Hawaii Medical Cannabis Law Advances, Recognizes Other State Programs

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In 2000, the State of Hawaii became the first US state to advance medical cannabis policies through their legislature, rather than a ballot initiative process. At the time, it was only the sixth state to have such laws, following the lead from Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The initial Hawaiian law allowed patients and their caregivers to grow their own plants but many patients were still left purchasing from the black market.

Then, in 2015, the state’s legislature passed into law Act 241, creating the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program, and opening a process to allow for state-licensed sales and regulatory oversight. The new law allowed for up to eight dispensary licenses across five islands, which would each include two dispensary and two cultivation sites.  Since then, two more iterations of the law have been approved, expanding the program and the number of qualifying ailments. One of the most important changes is the allowance of reciprocity with other medical cannabis states – meaning that any of the 1.2 million plus legal US cannabis patients from other states can purchase and use their medicine while on the islands.

That’s big news for an economy based almost entirely on tourism, with annual visitor numbers totaling nearly nine million. Other big-tourism locales are already beginning to make moves to integrate cannabis into their marketing of attractions. Denver has gained international recognition for their early adoption of legalization, competing with Los Angeles and Boston to become the country’s “Cannabis Capital”, and just this month Las Vegas has joined the fray. Meanwhile groups such as the Craft Cannabis Alliance in Oregon are already making moves to protect local niche producers in anticipation of competing in what will eventually be a national market.

Hawaii currently has eight licensed entities – three on Oahu, two licenses each of the islands of Hawaii and Maui, and one on Kauai. The first business is expected to open later this summer, and last month, the Hawaii Department of Health gave the go-ahead to two more production facilities in Oahu and Kauai. Green Aloha, Ltd hopes to have their dispensary operational by October in Kauai.

That’s good news for entrepreneurial patients who plan to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference on December 1, 2, and 3 at the Grand Hyatt Kauai! Attendees will learn the latest on Hawaii’s cannabis laws, along with all the latest info on changing cannabis policies and best practices. Plan your trip now, and get your early-bird tickets today!

Amber Iris Langston
About Amber Iris Langston 24 Articles
Amber Langston board member and deputy director of Show-Me Cannabis is an outspoken advocate for social, economic and environmental justice. Ms. Langston served as the campaign manager for Columbia, Missouri’s two successful municipal cannabis initiatives in 2004 while studying rural sociology at the University of Missouri. Amber has served as an outreach director and international liaison for Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Washington, DC, as field support for Americans for Safe Access in Oakland, CA, and as media liaison for California’s Proposition 19 to tax and regulate cannabis in November 2010.