History of Medical Cannabis in Hawaii


The Hawai'i Medical Marijuana Registry was established in 2000, making Hawai'i the sixth state to enact a medical cannabis program (after Alaska, California, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Washington State). In Hawai'i, from 2000 up to 2015, registered patients were only allowed to grow medicine for themselves, or they could designate a caregiver to grow medicine for them. The initial legislation provided no guidelines for the establishment of a “co-op” or dispensary system.

In 2015, the state passed new legislation outlining a state-licensed dispensary system. There are currently eight licensed entities distributed across Kauai (1), Oahu (3), Maui (2), and Hawai'i (2), with projected opening dates ranging into 2017. Until 2019, patients are still allowed to grow for themselves, or have a caregiver grow for them.


Beginning on January 1, 2024 caregivers will no longer be allowed to grow for patients unless the patient is either a minor, an adult lacking legal capacity, or a patient who resides on an island that does not have a dispensary. Patients will continue to be allowed to grow for themselves after this change in the caregiver policy takes effect.

As of January 2018, there were just over 20,000 registered patients statewide, with the largest percentage of patients registered on Hawai'i island. While the number of patients varies daily depending on new application, renewals, and expirations, there has been a steady increase in the total over the last two years.


Legislative Timeline


June 2000

Act 228 signed into law and codified as Part IX, Chapter 329, HRS, creating the Medical Marijuana Registry Program

December 2000

The State begins accepting registry applications                                        

January 2015

Medical Marijuana Registry Program transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health

July 2015

Act 241 signed into law and codified as Chapter 329D HRS, creating the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program

July 2016

HB 2707 signed into law, providing clarification to Chapter 329D HRS   

June 2017

HB 1488 signed into law, providing clarification to Chapter 329D HRS