In Hawaii, the phrase pakalolo, or ‘crazy tobacco,’ is a local term for cannabis. The state is also famous for its unique strains. However, medical marijuana users have faced an uphill battle to legally purchase weed for the best part of 20 years. However, in 2000, Ben Cayetano, the state’s governor at the time, signed Act 228 into law. It permitted MMJ cardholders to grow cannabis at home or appoint a caretaker to do it instead.
What Act 228 did NOT do was establish, or make provisions for, a legal marijuana market or dispensaries in the state. It was a strange situation as Hawaii was home to many artisanal home growers. They developed famous strains such as Puna Budder and Maui Wowee.
A 1979 edition of Rolling Stone described weed as the state’s #1 crop, ahead of pineapple and sugar.
The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program for the state (Act 241) was finally created in 2015. It enabled those who qualified for medical marijuana to register for the Hawaiian Medical Cannabis Program. Act 241 stated that the Hawaii Department of Health would implement the program in 2016. It meant the opening of dispensaries by June of that year.
Also, in 2016, Senate Bill 321 finally established a dispensary system and allowed eight dispensaries on the state, designated by island. However, it wasn’t until August 2017 that the first legal medicinal marijuana sale was made by a dispensary in Hawaii. There were 13 MMJ dispensaries in Hawaii at the time of writing. It has become easier to get a medical marijuana card in Hawaii in recent times. This guide shows you how.
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How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Hawaii – The Definitive Guide
In Hawaii, the MMJ card was once called the ‘Blue Card’ but is now known as the ‘329 card’. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting your 329 in Hawaii.
Step 1 – Register for the Program
The first step is to visit the official Hawaii government website. There, you register for the medical marijuana program. Until recently, only residents of Hawaii could participate in the program. However, in March 2019, the Hawaiian Department of Health (DOH) made a huge announcement. It opened its doors to MMJ users from out of state. We will explain this ‘visitor’ card in the final section.
Step 2 – Receive a Physician’s Approval
Your application won’t go anywhere until you get a certified doctor’s approval. You must provide information on your medical condition. You must also include details on why you believe medical marijuana could help treat the symptoms. We outline the list of qualifying conditions a little later on.
The physician will complete their portion of the form and submit the full application to the Department of Health. In most cases, patients are seen on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. This means you receive a text message, or else the doctor’s office calls you to arrange an appointment.
Completing the application requires:
- An email address to set up an account.
- Ideally, a desktop or laptop to complete the form.
- A photo of your I.D. card. Save it to your computer, and upload it to the registry website.
Make sure you double-check everything when completing the application. The systems of most medical practices don’t allow physicians to edit forms. Unfortunately, the Hawaiian DOH expects perfection! The name on the form must be an exact match for the name on your I.D. Card. The DOH wants a front-side picture of your Hawaii I.D. Card.
If your I.D. Card has an initial in the middle, and you enter the full middle name, for example, your application is rejected. It will delay your application by at least a month. This is apparently the most common reason for the registry returning applications.
Step 3 – Wait for Your 329 Card!
Once you apply, it goes to your physician for approval. They officially review it before sending it to the DOH. Most surgeries send you an email confirmation to confirm the submission of your application.
All 329 cards are sent directly to your home address and it can take 2-5 weeks for your card to arrive. You can also print off copies of the certificate. It is convenient to have several copies in case you lose one. At this point, you are finally allowed to purchase weed legally from one of the dispensaries in Hawaii. Given the fact that the state is a collection of islands, we hope you live on one that has a licensed dispensary!
What Are the Hawaii Medical Marijuana Card Costs?
You must pay $38.50 to the DOH with your application via EFT or debit/credit card. There is also a $16.50 fee for a replacement card (notify DOH of changes within ten working days).
Doctors’ prices range from $150 to $200, although it is usually only veterans who pay the lower amount. The 329 card lasts for a full year, and the expiry date is always the last day of the month in question.
You are allowed to apply for a renewal 60 days in advance, and we recommend doing so as soon as possible. It takes up to 5 weeks for your renewal to be approved and your new card to be sent to you. When it is time to renew, you have the option to renew for two years. It costs $77.
You can only opt for a two-year renewal if you are:
- Renewing with the same doctor or APRN who approved you last year.
- Your physician or APRN says your condition is chronic.
- Your physician or APRN agrees that a two-year renewal is in your best interest.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Hawaii?
When you attend a pre-screen with a physician, make sure you bring any medical documentation. This includes notes from previous doctor visits, trips to the chiropractor, ER visits, prescriptions, MRIs, scans, or X-rays to help support your diagnosis. You can obtain your medical records by contacting the hospital or physician where you received treatment and requesting your records.
The hospital in question should provide you with information on the process. They will ask you to sign an authorization that you can fax to them. At present, the list of qualifying diseases and conditions are as follows:
- Inflammatory bowel disorders
- Chronic nausea
- Seizure disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Fibromyalgia and painful neuropathies
- Illnesses and injuries related to military service, including PTSD
- Profound wasting disorders
- Chronic, disabling pain and muscle spasms
- Asthma under certain conditions
Many Hawaiian physicians are unwilling to authorize a 329 card for patients under the age of 30. This is unless they have a ‘compelling’ reason for doing so.
Other Information on the Hawaii Medical Marijuana License Process
Are There Electronic MMJ Cards?
Yes! The application process was a slow one, initially. It took around 25 days to receive your 329 card. However, Hawaii introduced an electronic card in March 2019. The cards have the same information as the hard copies but remove the need to wait for snail mail delivery. This process dramatically speeds up the overall process.
What About Out-of-State Users?
To join the program, out-of-state medical cannabis users will need to apply online. They pay $49.50 for a temporary MMJ card, which lasts 60 days. It is a 10-minute online process that enables you to buy cannabis from any licensed Hawaiian dispensary. The caveat is that you must qualify for MMJ in one of American’s legal states and jurisdictions. It is known as the 329-V card. Also, make sure you complete your application 60+ days before traveling to Hawaii.
How Much Marijuana Can I Buy with the MMJ Card in Hawaii?
Registered patients can purchase up to four ounces of cannabis every 15 days. You are also permitted to grow a maximum of 10 plants.
Where Can I Use Cannabis in Hawaii?
At present, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Hawaii. MMJ patients can’t use weed in a public place or a moving vehicle. The substance is also banned from beaches, recreation centers, school grounds, workplaces, and public parks.
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Medical Marijuana in Hawaii?
Minors are allowed on the program, but only with a statement from a parent/guardian. It must state that a physician has explained the benefits and risks of cannabis.
If you break the law, you could find yourself in prison, depending on the scale of the offense. Hawaii is a state that allows for conditional release or diversion of first-time marijuana offenders. Therefore, if you complete your probation, your record is purged.
Illegal possession of less than an ounce is classified as a ‘petty misdemeanor’ and usually results in a fine of up to $1,000. A recent change to the legislature means possession of three grams or less is a violation. It only carries a penalty of a $130 fine. However, it could result in a 30-day prison sentence.
Possession of over an ounce but under a pound is a misdemeanor with a possible prison term of 12 months. Possession of over a pound of cannabis is a Class C felony, and the charge gets more severe with more significant amounts.
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