HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With $12.6 million in sales last year and more than 1,500 pounds of medical marijuana sold, Hawaii’s medical cannabis industry is growing quickly ― and there are no signs of shortages.
And business is set to pick up even more.
On Tuesday, the state opened Hawaii’s medical cannabis registration program to out-of-state patients.
Medical marijuana is legal in 32 other states, and state officials say the change will ensure residents from those states who come to visit or live part-time in the islands can now register to buy cannabis products in Hawaii.
“It’s the no. 1 frequently asked question for each dispensary,” said Pono Life Sciences CEO Michael Takano. “Each and every day, every dispensary gets inquiries from out-of-state patients. That want access to safe, legal products. How does it work? How do I get it?”
Health officials say there’s millions of medical marijuana patients on the mainland, but they don’t know how many out-of-state patient might sign up.
The announcement coincides with the introduction of a new electronic registration card for patients. Hawaii is one of the first states in the nation to issue a fully electronic medical cannabis registration card.
Under the new system, out-of-state patients can get a 60-day Hawaii medical marijuana card and will be able to purchase medical cannabis from certified dispensaries in Hawaii as long as they’re certified in the medical cannabis program in their home state.
“The introduction of Hawaii’s electronic medical cannabis card is a major step in improving access to medical cannabis for qualified patients in Hawaii and out-of-state patients in the 37 other jurisdictions where medical cannabis is allowed, said state Health Department Director Bruce Anderson, in a news release.
“These patients may now legally obtain medical cannabis from any of the local licensed retail dispensaries while visiting the islands."
Officials said the electronic medical registration cards will have the same information as the hard copy cards, but the new system will eliminate the need to wait for the card by mail.
As it opens the system to out-of-state residents, the state said it’s also working with dispensaries to ensure they educate patients on where cannabis can be used and how it can be transported.
One word of caution: You still can’t legally take medical marijuana on a plane and health officials say a patient cannot use their Hawaii medical marijuana in another state.
For more information on the changes, click here.