The Hawaii Department of Health is responsible for administering two distinct but related medical cannabis programs. Both the Medical Cannabis Registry Program and the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program are designed to ensure medical cannabis is accessible for Hawaii’s patients, while making quality control and product safety top priorities, as well as ensuring public safety.
The Medical Cannabis Registry Program was created by Act 228 (Session Laws of Hawaii 2000), and is codified in the Hawaii Revised Statutes at part IX, Chapter 329, HRS. The Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program was created by Act 241 (Session Laws of Hawaii 2015), and is codified in the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) at Chapter 329D, HRS.
Medical Cannabis Registry Program
The Hawaii Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Services Branch has administered the Medical Cannabis Registry Program since it was transferred from the Hawaii Department of Public Safety on January 1, 2015.
Hawaii law requires all qualified patients to be registered with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program before they begin to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. The registration process begins when an appropriately licensed physician certifies that the patient has a health condition that can benefit from medical cannabis. The patient is registered when the Department of Health issues a 329 Registration Card. The department’s goal is to issue the patient’s 329 Registration Card in a timely manner so that patients can begin or continue to legally use medical cannabis.
The Department of Health is also required to provide law enforcement officials with limited access to the Medical Cannabis Registry Program’s data base as a tool to safeguard the community against illegal cannabis use and/or illegal cannabis grow sites.
Click here for more details about the Medical Cannabis Registry Program.
Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program
The Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance oversees the dispensary licensure program to monitor the quality of the cannabis products from seed to sale. This includes statewide oversight of the laboratories that test the safety and quality of the cannabis and manufactured cannabis products, and monitoring of the dispensaries who will grow, manufacture, and sell the products to qualified patients.
Act 241 was signed into law in July 2015 and became Chapter 329D, HRS. The Hawaii Department of Health will begin administering the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program in 2016 and dispensaries may begin to dispense medical cannabis and manufactured medical cannabis products as early as July 2016 with departmental approval.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Hawaii since 2000, but access to medical cannabis remained a challenge. Patients and caregivers could legally grow their own cannabis plants within certain parameters. Advocates of medical cannabis have hailed the dispensary program as a major breakthrough. The goal of the dispensary licensure program is to make medicinal products readily available for registered patients while balancing the health and safety of patients and the public.
Click here for more details about the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program.