Possession of a Controlled Substance in Hawaii

All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for their sale. Hawaii considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine to be controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses possession of controlled substances only. Sale of CDS has different penalties. For more information on sale of CDS see Sale of Controlled Substances in Hawaii.

How Hawaii Classifies Controlled Dangerous Substances

Hawaii divides its CDS into five groups or “schedules” (I through V), based on the potential for harm to the user.

  • Schedule I drugs (such as opium derivatives) are those considered to have the highest degree of possible danger to users.
  • Schedule II drugs (such as methadone and PCP) have a lower degree of possible danger to users than Schedule I drugs, but higher than Schedule III drugs.
  • Schedule III drugs (such as lysergic acid) have a lower degree of possible danger than Schedule II drugs, but higher than Schedule IV drugs.
  • Schedule IV drugs (such as zolpidem and diazepam) have a lower degree of possible danger than Schedule IIIA drugs, but higher than Schedule V drugs.
  • Schedule V drugs (such as some dosages of codeine) have a lower degree of possible danger than Schedule IV drugs.

To understand the charges and penalties you might face, look at the charging document in your case (usually called either a complaint or "information", or, if from a grand jury, an indictment). Identify the name of the drugs specified in the document, consult the schedules explained above, and place them in the proper schedule. Then read below to learn about possible charges and sentences. The statutes that place various drugs in each schedule are Hawaii Revised Statutes Sections 329-13 to 329-22.

How Hawaii Punishes CDS Sales Crimes

Hawaii punishes CDS crimes based on whether the substance is categorized as a “dangerous”, “detrimental”, or “harmful” drug, and by the amount of the substance involved in the case. The CDS that belongs in each group is discussed below. To emphasize the point, we'll italicize the group name each time it appears.

All CDS crimes, including possession, distribution, and sales, are referred to as “promoting.” The promoting of CDS is punishable as either a felony or as a misdemeanor. Hawaii has three classes of felonies: Classes A, B, and C. Felony sale or distribution of CDS can be of any class. Misdemeanor crimes face shorter periods of incarceration and smaller fines than felonies.

Dangerous CDS

“Dangerous” CDS includes the following:

  • any Schedule I substance
  • any Schedule II substance, or
  • Schedule III tiletamine/zolazepam (telazol, 2-(ethylamino)-2-(-thienyl)-cyclohexanone, flupyrazapon, or any of its salts, isomers, or isomer of salts.

Harmful CDS

“Harmful” CDS includes the following:

  • any Schedule III substance ( other than those classified as dangerous CDS above)
  • any Schedule IV substance, and
  • any marijuana concentrate (except marijuana).

Detrimental CDS

“Detrimental” CDS is any Schedule V substance or marijuana (other than marijuana concentrate).

(Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 712-1240.)

Class A Felony Possession

Class A felonies are punishable by a period of incarceration of up to 20 years, without the possibility of probation or a suspended sentence, and a fine of up to $50,000. The following convictions are Class A felonies.

(Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 706-640, 706-659.)

Promoting a dangerous CDS in the first degree

Possession of the following substances is a Class A felony:

  • one ounce or more of any substance that contains heroin, morphine, cocaine, or any of their salts, isomers, or salts or isomers, or
  • one and a half ounces or more of any other dangerous drug (other than methamphetamine.)

(Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 712-1241)

Promoting a harmful CDS in the first degree

Possession of the following substances is a Class A felony:

  • 100 or more capsules, tablets, or doses that contain one or more harmful drugs, or one or more marijuana concentrates, or any combination of the two, or
  • one or more mixtures, preparations, or compounds that contains one ounce or more harmful drugs, marijuana concentrates, or any combination of the two.

(Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 712-1244.)

Class B Felony Possession

Class B felonies are punishable by a period of incarceration of up to ten years and a fine of up to $25,000. The following convictions receive Class B felony punishment.

(Hawaii Revised Statutes Sections 706-640, 706-659.)

Promoting a dangerous CDS in the second degree

Possession of the following is a Class B felony:

  • 25 or more capsules, tablets, or doses that contains one more dangerous drug
  • 1/8 ounce or more of any substance that contains methamphetamine, heroin, morphine, cocaine, or any of their salts, isomers, or salt of isomers, or

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