Definition of Medical Cannabis

med·i·cal can·na·bis  noun

 \ ˈme-di-kəl ˈka-nə-bəs \

Cannabis that is accepted for medical use under state law.

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Day: June 14, 2019

2019 Commemorative T-shirt

MCDay T-shirt-5.jpg


Local Events

Proclamation Request Update (May 29, 2019): Aloha and thank you for contacting the Office of Governor David Ige to request a commemorative message from the governor. Unfortunately, our office will not be able to accommodate your request for Medical Cannabis Day at this time. We hope to be able to assist you in the future.

White Hous Flag-2.jpg

Flag Flying Request Update (May 22, 2019): Thank you for reaching out to Congresswoman Gabbard regarding your Flag request.  We are honored to serve you.  This request will be submitted around June 4th due to the fly date of June 14, 2019.  You will receive a heads up when we mail it out to you, which should be approximately June 28th .  The flag office requires that we give them at least 10 -14 days to process the flag once it has been flown.  Please feel free to call our office if you have any questions.

MCDay-Flag Certificate-14Jun19.jpg

MCDay-Folded Flag-14Jun19.jpg

MCDay-Cannabis Chronicles-15May19-4.jpg


The legislature finds that modern medical research has discovered a beneficial use of marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating illnesses.  There is sufficient medical and anecdotal evidence to support the proposition that these diseases and conditions may respond favorably to a medically controlled use of marijuana.

The legislature is aware of the legal problems associated with the legal acquisition of marijuana for medical use.  However, the legislature believes that medical scientific evidence on the medicinal benefits of marijuana should be recognized.  Although federal law expressly prohibits the use of marijuana, the legislature recognizes that a number of states are taking the initiative in legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  Voter initiatives permitting the medial use of marijuana have passed in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Maine, Nevada, and the District of Columbia.

The legislature intends to join in this initiative for the health and welfare of its citizens.  However, the legislature does not intend to legalize marijuana for other than medical purposes.

The passage of this Act and the policy underlying it does not in any way diminish the legislature’s strong public policy and laws against illegal drug use.

Therefore, the purpose of this Act is to ensure that seriously ill people are not penalized by the State for the use of marijuana for strictly medical purposes when the patient’s treating physician provides a professional opinion that the benefits of medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient.

SB862-Cayetano Signature-14Jun2000.jpg

Archives Photo-06May19.jpg

Be a supporter of State Law, not a perpetrator of misplaced Federal Supremacy.

Palace Gate-14May19.jpg
Capitol Medalion-14May19.jpg
Capitol Skylight-14May19.jpg
Deliverying Envelopes-14May19-2.jpg

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Day postcards delivered at the State Capitol on May 14, 2019

A Brief History of Hawaii’s Program

Following adoption of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, the State of Hawaii, along with all the other states in the Union, adopted a complimentary system at the state level in order to harmonize the state and federal regulation of controlled substances.

However, in keeping with its own authority under federalism, Hawaii did not adopt the version of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (UCSA) that was recommended by the Uniform Law Commission.  Instead, Hawaii created its own version of the UCSA that contains a completely different set of scheduling criteria that have nothing to do with "accepted medical use".

Furthermore, unlike the federal CSA, where administration and enforcement of the act is based upon separate federal regulations, Hawaii's UCSA places scheduling criteria and scheduling classifications both within the statute itself.

In addition, Hawaii's UCSA also contains a legislative process that allows for the annual matching of state and federal scheduling changes.  This process has been used to create the impression that the state and federal scheduling of controlled substances must always be the same, even though Hawaii's scheduling criteria are completely different from the federal criteria, and even though Hawaii's UCSA allows the Department of Public Safety (PSD) to make annual scheduling recommendations to the Legislature based on changes in state law, and authorizes the Legislature to adjust the state scheduling of controlled substances independent of federal changes.

In 2000, without consulting with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Hawaii exercised its authority to accept the medical use of controlled substances, and created, via the legislative process, a state-regulated program that accepted the medical use of a Schedule I controlled substance in Hawaii for the very first time.

Despite the original intent of our lawmakers to have Hawaii's Medical Use of Cannabis Program housed within the Department of Health (DOH), administration of the program was instead given to the Narcotics Enforcement Division (NED), a branch of PSD, which created a direct conflict of interests with NED's federal drug enforcement counterpart.  It took fifteen years for Hawaii's Medical Use of Cannabis Program to be moved to DOH.

Hawaii's program, as it was originally implemented, restricted the production of cannabis to patients and caregivers who met certain eligibility criteria set by the state, and required ongoing medical supervision by a certifying physician.  Because patients are the ultimate user of a controlled substance in this case, they are not required to obtain separate state controlled substances registration from NED.

Given the non-uniformity of its own UCSA, Hawaii was also able to leave cannabis in state Schedule I because Hawaii's scheduling criteria do not require a consideration of accepted medical use.  This inconsistency with the federal CSA offered a convenient way to continue the annual matching of state and federal scheduling without addressing the state scheduling of cannabis, and encouraged a tradition of ignoring the fact that substances with medical use cannot have the "highest degree of danger".

For fifteen years the program remained under the administration of NED, until DOH finally took over the program in the beginning of 2015.  Then, later that same year, a state-regulated dispensary system that allowed for the commercial production and distribution of cannabis for medical use was adopted under state law.  Eight dispensary applicants spread throughout the Hawaiian Islands (3 on Oahu, 2 on Hawaii, 2 on Maui, and 1 on Kauai) were subsequently selected for state licensing in April of 2016 using a merit-based application process.  Nearly a year and a half later, a dispensary on Maui was the first to open its doors to patients in August of 2017.  Since that time, six other dispensaries have also started serving patients, all doing so under the assumption that they are in direct violation of federal law, which puts them at unnecessary risk for federal intervention and prohibits them from interacting with banking institutions and our state University system.

Unfortunately, our state Legislature still hasn't found a way to recognize that the state-accepted medical use of cannabis in Hawaii is currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, which is preventing any discussion with DOJ regarding the impact that state-accepted medical use has upon the federal CSA.

Certain inconsistencies also exist within Hawaii's Medical Use of Cannabis Act itself, such as prohibiting the inter-island transportation of cannabis for medical use by patients, while at the same time authorizing dispensaries to transport material between islands for testing purposes.  Such irregularities continue to blur the lines between the state and federal regulation of this substance, and perpetuate the misconception that Hawaii's program is violating federal law. 

Ultimately, it is our patients who are losing out under the current climate of dis-regulation.  In Hawaii, thousands of registered patients live in fear of what could happen if the federal government were to escalate its war on cannabis, and thousands more are being deprived the potential beneficial uses of this substance because of a fear of engaging in an activity that is mistakenly perceived as violating federal law. 

In the meantime, the current situation encourages an attitude of "staying below the radar", which attracts individuals and business that have no compunction about operating a commercial enterprise that they believe is violating federal law, and which continues to undermine any remaining respect for the rule of law.  Add to this an attitude on the part of our state Legislature that any changes in this area must first occur at the federal level, and we have a perfect storm for ignoring the impact that the state-accepted medical use of cannabis in Hawaii has upon the federal regulation of this substance, while missing out on possible solutions that would come to light if this connection could be recognized.

Hawaii Medical Cannabis Day is one way we can recognize that state medical use is currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, which means that our program is exempt from federal Schedule I regulation. This position is supported by the State Medical Use Argument.

Disclaimer: The information on this webpage is for educational purposes only, and an exercise in freedom of speech. Please consult with a lawyer for professional legal advice on the Medical Use of Cannabis in Hawaii.