Following the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Oregon, several marijuana-related bills were submitted to the Hawaii legislature in the 2014 session, which has ended. There was hope among advocates of legalization that these bills, in light of their passage in other states, might have a chance at passage in Hawaii. Simply put, they did not. Non-medical marijuana remains illegal in Hawaii as a Schedule One Narcotic.

Medical marijuana usage has been legal in Hawaii since December of 2000. Patients with the “marijuana card” are permitted a handful of marijuana plants and up to an ounce of usable marijuana. The sale and purchase of marijuana remains a criminal offense in Hawaii. Recreational use remains a crime. There are no government sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. If you want to use marijuana legally in Hawaii, you have to grow it yourself to remain within the bounds of the law.

Hawaii’s laid back image and slowed-down pace of living sometimes lead visitors to believe that Hawaii authorities have a casual attitude toward marijuana use. The most ardent opponents of recent progressive legislation regarding the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are law enforcement agencies at the state and county levels. It appears that legal, recreational marijuana use in Hawaii is a long way off. The penalty for personal-use possession of one ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to a year in jail.

On a related note, however, the Hawaii legislature recently passed and Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill that will allow the University of Hawaii to cultivate non-potent, non-psychoactive hemp for research purposes that include its potential use as a biofuel and phytoremediation (soil decontamination).

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