Hawaii has a special place in the hearts of cannabis breeders and weed lovers for two good reasons. First, there’s plenty of sun in the Aloha State and its sub-tropical climate makes it a perfect place for growing marijuana. Second, this special island is also home to some of the best landrace and hybrid strains in the world like Maui Wowie, Puna Budder, and Kona Gold.
Although home growing recreational marijuana is still illegal under Hawaii’s marijuana laws, qualified patients were able to cultivate and enjoy the benefits of medical cannabis since 2000. In fact, Hawaii is the first state to have legalized medical marijuana through state legislature.
There is a good chance that the state will legalize completely this year. Possession of small amounts was already decriminalized in 2020. Under HB 1318, possession of 3 grams or less is now punishable by fines of only up to $130. The previous penalty was up to a $1000 fine and a 30-day jail sentence. Now there are multiple recreational marijuana bills already introduced for this year.
HB 7 seeks to legalize possession and sale of cannabis for those aged 21 and up as well as create a marijuana business licensing system and levy an excise tax on recreational sales. Meanwhile, HB 238 is a similar measure that also seeks the allocation of an unspecified percentage of excise tax revenues for Hawaii counties.
Similarly, SB 704 is a legalization bill that will establish a marketplace with licensed businesses that will be subject to excise taxes.
There are also three decriminalization bills already pending in the Senate. SB 47 would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce or up to an eighth of concentrate. It will also drop the penalty for giving up to an ounce or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
SB 705 meanwhile seeks to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule V under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. It will also set a higher limit on the amount that qualifies as a violation of promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree from 3 grams to 10.
Lastly, SB 758 will increase the possession limit from an ounce to three.
This article was reviewed and updated for 2021.
Overview of Cannabis Growing Laws in Hawaii
Hawaiians can only grow marijuana if they are registered under the state’s Medical Cannabis Registry program which allows cardholders to:
- Grow up to 10 mature or immature marijuana plants. The limit was changed from 7 to 10 in 2017.
- Medical cannabis plants should be tagged properly according to the Medical Cannabis Registry program’s guidelines.
- The plants must be grown at a single location only.
Compared to other weed states, Hawaii’s marijuana laws are noticeably more relaxed. It defines an “adequate supply” as seven plants and 4 ounces of usable marijuana and patients and their caregivers can be as young as 18.
This was last updated in June 2020. We will be updating this guide with new developments that may come out.
Punishments for Violating Hawaii Home Grow Laws
Interestingly enough, Hawaii’s marijuana laws are unclear about penalties on growing more than 7 plants but below 25. What is does say is this:
- It is a Class C felony to cultivate more than 25 to 49 plants. This is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonments and/or a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
As expected, the penalties get way harsher beyond 50 plants. Another 2 years gets added to the sentence if the plants are grown in the same structure as a minor 18 years old and below. One specific point about growing in excess of 10 plants is this:
- Cultivation of fewer than 25 plants on another’s person’s property without the owner’s permission is a Class B felony. This is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
There’s really no good reason to grow more than 10 plants per patient, considering that it’s possible to harvest up to a pound from just one plant and qualified patients are allowed to buy 4 oz within 15 consecutive days from dispensaries.
History of marijuana in Hawaii
Also known as pakalolo in the island’s native language, cannabis had been growing peacefully on Hawaii’s fertile soil until the federal government’s Green Harvest operations sought to eradicate it completely in the 80’s. For almost three decades, cannabis plants on the island were seized and killed by law enforcement in name of the War on Drugs which was funded by taxpayer money.
Things only began to turn in 2000 when Hawaii became the first state to approve a medical marijuana bill, possibly due to the legalization momentum that began with California in 1996. Before Hawaii, all other states approved medical cannabis via ballot measures. In 2015, a dispensary program was also approved under Act 241 and although it took a while to get the ball rolling, dispensaries were finally allowed to operate in 2016.
Although the state’s eighth governor, David Ige, showed some support for Hawaii’s pro-weed policies in recent years by signing Act 228 in 2016 which allows the cultivation of industrial hemp and HB1383 that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana, it may take a while before recreational use gets legalized since Ige said that the decision was a “tough call”.
Growing medical marijuana in Hawaii
The first thing that patient who wants to grow medical marijuana in Hawaii must do is register for a 329 card. Under Hawaii’s marijuana laws, caregivers need not register separately but they may only be a designated caregiver to a single patient.
Any Hawaiian, even those under 18, who has a qualifying debilitating medical condition may apply for a 329 card. Here are the documents you need to secure for your application:
- A valid ID. You can use any of the following: state-issued driver’s license, US state photo ID card, or a valid passport.
- Minors may use an original birth certificate with a unique US identification number.
- Caregiver certification (if applicable)
- Grow site certification
You have to be certified by, and maintain a “Bona Fide Relationship” with either a physician with a Hawaii Medical License & Hawaii Controlled Substance License or an APRN (Advance Practice Registered Nurses) with prescriptive authority.
The application process is fairly easier compared to those in other states. Just fill out the required information and upload the necessary documents on Medical Cannabis Registry online portal. If you are unable to upload your documents, you may just bring them to your doctor’s office. The 329 card also only costs $35 but this fee won’t be refunded in case your application gets denied, so make sure to provide your information completely and accurately.
Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Hawaii
How does Hawaii’s marijuana laws compare with home growing laws in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.
FAQs about growing marijuana in Hawaii
No, it is still illegal to grow recreational cannabis at home in Hawaii.
None. Home cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes is still not allowed in Hawaii.
Yes, registered patients and their caregivers are allowed to grow medical cannabis at home in Hawaii.
Hawaiians may grow up to 10 mature or immature medical cannabis plants at home.
Patients or caregivers may grow at a single location only.
Patients have to be at least 21 years old and caregivers at least 18 years old to be able to legally grow marijuana at home in Hawaii. However, caregivers will no longer be allowed to grow, except for minors/adults lacking legal capacity and on islands that do not have a dispensary, after December 31, 2023.
Although Hawaii’s home cultivation laws for medical marijuana are relatively generous and small amounts have now been decriminalized, the legalization of recreational weed may not yet be on the horizon within the next few years. In fact, the Medical Cannabis Registry Program will no longer be allowing caregivers to grow, except for patients lacking legal capacity and on islands that do not have a dispensary after December 31, 2023.
For now, patients and caregivers who are growing medical cannabis need to be mindful of these things:
- Patients and their designated caregivers can jointly possess only up to 10 marijuana plants.
- Medical marijuana plants have to be properly tagged and grown in a single location.
- Caregivers can only have one patient and vice versa.