Hawaii Marijuana Laws

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Marijuana possession, sale, and distribution is regulated by both state and federal law. In Hawaii, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, as a drug with a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical use. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 329-14.) However, there may be some exceptions to the following laws for medical marijuana possession and use. And, while not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Hawaii.

To learn more about Hawaii DUI marijuana laws, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Hawaii.

To learn about Hawaii's medical marijuana laws, see Hawaii Medical Marijuana Laws.

Marijuana Possession

 It is illegal to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana in Hawaii. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 329-14.) Penalties vary according to the amount possessed.

  • Less than one ounce. A person who knowingly possesses marijuana (in any amount) is guilty of a petty misdemeanor, punishable with up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.)
  • Between one ounce and one pound. A violation is a misdemeanor, punishable with up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.  (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1248.)
  • Between one and two pounds. A violation is a class B felony, punishable with up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.5(a).)
  • Twenty five pounds or more. A violation is a class A felony, punishable with up to 25 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.4(a).)

Marijuana Plants

Cultivating marijuana plants is a crime in Hawaii. Penalties vary according to the number of plants grown. Additional penalties apply to individuals who cultivate marijuana on someone else’s property (including government property, such as within a national park).

  • Between 25 and 50 plants. A violation is a class C felony, punishable with up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1247.)
  • Between 50 and 100 plants. A violation is a class B felony punishable with up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.  (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.5.)
  • 100 or more plants. A violation is a class A felony, punishable with up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.  (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1247.)  

Cultivation on government or other land. Cultivating up to 24 plants on government land, or land owned by someone other than the person growing the plants (without permission) is a class B felony, punishable with up to ten years in prison. If the landowner did give permission, the owner and the cultivator may each be liable for penalties described above. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.5.) Cultivating 25 or more plants is a class A felony, punishable with up to 20 years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.4(d).)

Distributing Marijuana

Distributing marijuana (including selling or bartering) is a crime in Hawaii. Penalties vary according to the amount distributed, with additional penalties for distribution in or near a school, school vehicle, or public park.

  • Less than one ounce. Distributing up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable with up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1248(c).)
  • Between one ounce and one pound. A violation is a class C felony, punishable with up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1247(f).)
  • Between one and five pounds. A violation is a class B felony, punishable with up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.  (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.5(b).)
  • Five pounds or more. A violation is a class A felony punishable with up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.  (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.4(b).)

Distribution in or near a school, school vehicle, or public park

 A violation that occurs in or within 750 feet of a school or public park; or in or within ten feet of a school vehicle, is a class C felony, punishable with up to five years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.6.)

Distribution to minors

An adult older than 18 may not sell marijuana to a minor younger than 18. Violations are class B felonies, punishable with up to ten years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.5(e).)  It is also a class B felony to hire or otherwise use a minor to distribute marijuana. However, if the violation takes place on or near a school, school vehicle, or public park, the violation is a class A felony punishable with up to 20 years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 712-1249.7.)

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal in Hawaii to possess, use, or sell drug paraphernalia. Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. Penalties vary according to the violation.

  • Possession, use, manufacture, or distribution. A violation is a class C felony, punishable with up to five years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 329-43.5(a)&(b).)  
  • Sale to a minor. Selling paraphernalia to a minor who is younger than18 years old, when the seller is at least three years older than the minor, is a class B felony. Violations are punishable with up to ten years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 329-43.5(c).)  
  • Advertising. It is illegal to advertise paraphernalia in Hawaii. A violation is a class C felony, punishable with up to five years in prison. (Hi. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 329-43.5(d).)  

An Important Note on Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

by: , Contributing Author

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