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How to Open a Dispensary in Hawaii


Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in Hawaii? This page offers up-to-date news and essential information crucial for anyone looking to start a cannabis company in the state. This contains insights about what is ahead in the future.

In Hawaii, using weed for recreation is still not allowed, but having three grams or less won’t get you into too much trouble as it is decriminalized. The state gave the green light for using it medicinally back in 2000, all thanks to Act 228 passing.

During the 2023 legislative session in Hawaii, a bunch of proposals about making cannabis legal were put forward. But, sadly, none of them got anywhere before the deadlines. Now, the people who support it are looking ahead to 2024, hoping that they can make some changes during that time.

Even though things didn’t move forward much in the last legislative session, more and more people in Hawaii are getting behind the idea of letting adults use marijuana legally. According to a survey done in 2023, a solid 52% of Hawaiians are in favor of letting adults use marijuana, while only 31% are against it.

On March 5th, 2024, Hawaii’s Senate passed SB 3335, aimed at legalizing adult-use marijuana for those over 21 and establishing the Hawaii Hemp and Cannabis Authority. This bill allows regulated possession and cultivation and introduces taxation and criminal justice reforms, including expungement for specific offenses. After approval in the Senate with a 19-6 vote, it moved to the Hawaii House of Representatives. The House’s joint committees endorsed the bill on March 13th, 2024, allowing limited possession and home cultivation while amending regulations and penalties. Following this, on March 22nd, 2024, the House passed the bill with a 25-23 vote, sending it to the House Finance Committee. The legislation, aiming for full implementation by January 1, 2026, faced a setback. On April 2nd, 2024, House leaders halted the push to legalize recreational marijuana, prioritizing other legislative issues, notably recovery efforts from Maui’s wildfire. Advocates remain hopeful, planning to reintroduce improved legislation in the next session, focusing on public safety and health, and addressing the past harms of cannabis criminalization. 

The Opportunity Size

As per Statista’s prediction, it’s anticipated that by 2025, the worth of marijuana sales in Hawaii will reach around 166.3 million U.S. dollars. This forecast sheds light on the potential growth and economic impact of the marijuana industry in Hawaii over the next few years. 

Medical Marijuana

Back in 2000, Hawaii made it all official and gave the green light to medical cannabis, giving the thumbs-up for registered patients to grow their own weed or have a caregiver handle it. But there weren’t any legal shops or places to buy it from back then.

In 2015, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program was rolled out, and it came with some rules and regulations. So, if you wanted to get in on the program and qualify, you had to sign up and get yourself a Registration Card from the Department of Health. With that card in hand, you were officially allowed to acquire medical marijuana, as long as a doctor gave you the thumbs-up with their certification.

Act 241, which was approved in July 2015, made the Department of Health the administrator of the whole program and gave licensed dispensaries the green light to sell medical and manufactured marijuana products starting from July 2016.

To put up a dispensary system, Senate Bill 321 was passed in 2016, giving the green light for eight dispensaries to pop up all over the state, with each one assigned to a particular island. The very first legit sale of medical cannabis at a dispensary went down in Maui in August 2017. As of April 30, 2023, there’s a whopping 33,125 valid patients in Hawaii according to a Data Report.

How To Win a Cannabis Business License In Hawaii

At the moment, the Hawaii State Department of Health isn’t taking in any applications for medical cannabis dispensary licenses. Once applications start being accepted again, updates will be given in this section. While you wait, you can check the minimum qualifications for applicants below.

To put forth an application for a dispensary license, it’s important to include both an individual applicant and an applying entity in the application.

To meet the requirements for a dispensary license, an individual needs to reach a minimum age of twenty-one years, maintain a legal residency in the State for no less than five years before the application date, possess no felony convictions or any other background history that might disqualify them, and secure authorization from the applying entity to submit the license application while acting as the primary point of contact with the department.

To qualify as an applying entity, the entity must be organized under the laws of the State and have a Hawaii tax identification number. It should have a Department of commerce and Consumer Affairs business registration division number and suffix, as well as a federal employer identification number. The entity must be majority-owned by Hawaii legal residents or entities controlled by Hawaii legal residents with at least five years of residency. Financial resources of at least $1,000,000 for each license applied for, plus an additional $100,000 for each retail dispensing location, are required. All owners, principals, or members of the applying entity must be at least 21 years old and have no felony convictions or disqualifying background history.

How Much Does it Cost to Open a Dispensary in Hawaii?

To open a dispensary in Hawaii, there are certain fees involved. These include an application fee of $5,000, which is non-refundable and must be submitted with each license application. Additionally, within seven days of receiving written notification of selection from the department, the chosen applicant must provide a dispensary license fee of $75,000. This payment should be made by certified or cashier’s check, payable to the State of Hawaii Department of Health.

For more information about how much it costs to open a dispensary, check here.

Recreational Use Legalization

The 2023 legislative session in Hawaii began on January 18, 2023, with the Hawaii legislature commencing their legislative activities. During this session, there were several proposals regarding the legalization of cannabis being considered. However, on February 8, 2023, all three house proposals, namely HB 1216, HB 237, and HB 1425, failed to be scheduled for their first hearing before the referral deadline. This outcome officially marked the end of these bills’ consideration for the 2023 legislative session.

Following that, on March 16, 2023, the only remaining cannabis legalization bill, SB 669, also failed to receive a hearing in the House before a legislative deadline. The bill was effectively terminated for the year.

Advocates for cannabis legalization are now shifting their focus to the year 2024, aiming to bring about the desired reform during the second half of the two-year legislative session.

To stay informed on all significant updates and access hard-to-find news and insight related to Hawaii Legalization, please subscribe to our Hawaii Cannabis Mailing List. This will cover various topics, such as:

  • What are the requirements to get a marijuana business license in Hawaii?
  • How do I open a medical dispensary in Hawaii?
  • When will Hawaii fully legalize cannabis?
  • What special programs will be available?
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