In recent years, research has been emerging about the medical benefits of CBD. Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a chemical found in both marijuana and hemp plants. The legal status of CBD oil in Hawaii is confusing at best. The reason for the confusion arises out of a multitude of factors including the legality of the plants from which the chemical is derived, the laws in Hawaii, and the position of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health.

Difference Between Marijuana & Hemp in Hawaii

Under federal law, marijuana is illegal. CBD oil derived from marijuana is therefore federally illegal. States, however, are under no obligation to enforce federal law. In the State of Hawaii, recreational marijuana is illegal but there are exemptions carved out for medical use. In 1999, Senate Bill 862 was introduced. The bill legalized “medical use” which was defined as the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, or transportation of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions. These conditions were defined as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, or AIDS. This also included the condition or the treatment of the condition if it caused wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms such as those that occur in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The legal status of hemp is much different on both the state and federal level. In 2014, Senate Bill 2175 was enacted and authorized an industrial hemp research program. In 2016, Act 228 started the process in motion for the cultivation of hemp. In 2018, President Trump signed into law the Farm Bill of 2018 which legalized industrial hemp which contained less than 0.3% THC. This legalized hemp federally as it removed it from being classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Part of the reason that the cultivating of hemp was legislatively desired was the recognition of the environmental and economic benefits of growing hemp. The growing of hemp can be an expensive but lucrative business. Some estimates find that a medium sized hemp farm can make as much as $50,000 a year. Hemp is a crop that is best grown outdoors on an industrial scale. It is best grown in soil that has reached 46 degrees Fahrenheit and in a climate that receives somewhere between 25-30 inches of rain per year.

Hemp has the ability to be densely grown with 240-400 seeds being able to be planted per square meter. This can yield 50-60 pounds of hemp per acre. Because of the high cost of starting a hemp production business, CBD is often relatively expensive. A gram of CBD oil can be expected to normally cost in excess in $130. Extremely cheap CBD oil may be the result of a low-grade product.

In the State of Hawaii though, the legality of CBD oil is a matter of deduction. There appears to be no law in Hawaii which explicitly bans hemp and it is at present legal to cultivate. As such, CBD from hemp would presumably also be legal. CBD oil derived from marijuana on the other hand would appear to still be illegal for recreational use as the law in Hawaii only permits the use of marijuana related products for medical use.

The main reason for the different treatment of marijuana and hemp in the law is the presence and amount of THC, formally referred to as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the major active ingredient in marijuana and is one of a multitude of cannabinoids found in Cannabis plants. This chemical is what produces the psychoactive effect of being high. This occurs due to the effect that THC has on CB1 receptors. THC binds with these receptors which are mainly found in the sections of the brain that control memory, motor functions, and emotions.

Unlike marijuana, hemp is relatively low in THC and does not produce the psychoactive effect that an individual receives from marijuana. Hemp is relatively high in CBD. American strains of hemp can have as much as 20% CBD. CBD binds more with CB2 receptors which are mostly located in the immune system and gastrointestinal tract. Because of this, CBD from hemp does not lead to the same psychoactive result of being high but still yields the same beneficial results. To the contrary, emerging scientific research suggests that CBD blocks the psychoactive effects of THC.

The Varied Benefits of CBD Use

A large body of research has recognized that cannabinoids have the potential to assist in the treatment of a wide variety of medical issues. The 1999 bill that first legalized medicinal marijuana found that “modern medical research has discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in alleviating certain serious illnesses. CBD in particular has received a large amount of attention in the field of pain management. CBD has been found to reduce he frequency of seizures in children and adults. CBD has further been found to help improve sleep time in persons who suffer from insomnia. Research additionally shows that CBD is effective in mitigating pain and muscle-tightness associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). CBD has shown effectiveness in reducing anxiety. Because CB2 receptors are found in a high amount in the gastrointestinal tract, CBD has become a more popular treatment for Crohn’s disease. CBD has been used in assisting individuals withdraw from opioid usage.

Hawaii’s Department of Health Complicates the Matter

To complicate the matter however, Hawaii’s Department of Health in May of 2019 issued a statement highlighting the fact that CBD from any source had never been explicitly permitted for sale except to persons who were covered by the medical marijuana regulations. Their position was alleged to be rooted in concerns of safety and drug interactions, truth-in-labeling, false health claims, and quality control. They noted that under Hawaii law, substances derived from cannabis could not be added to food, beverages, or cosmetics for manufacture, distribution, or sale. The Department of Health further noted that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had never approved the use of CBD in over-the-counter products.

In addition to forbidding the use in food, beverages, and cosmetics, CBD is also not allowed to be marketed by asserting health claims or sold as a dietary supplement. The silver lining here is that CBD oil derived from hemp was not actually stated to be illegal in and of itself, but only within the criteria set forth.

Regardless of the Department of Health’s position on the matter, individuals in Hawaii are able to find a variety of products infused with CDB. These include edibles such as gummies. This also includes various lotions, concentrates, and vapes. The State of Hawaii appears to have taken a stance in regard to some products. The Department of Health recently began sending out warnings to distributors of the products and the State has penalized individuals for usage of CBD as a food additive. This has brought an end to the distribution of products like chewing gum and cakes infused with CBD.

Where Can You Buy CBD Oil in Hawaii

CBD oil can be purchased from a variety of locations in Hawaii. If you fall under the classification of a person with a debilitating medical condition, CBD oil can be purchased from a licensed state dispensary. This requires a valid medical card and registration with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program.

For other persons, CBD oil can be purchased from a variety of shops. The CBD oil purchased from these facilities are derived from hemp. In the capital city of Honolulu, CBD oil may be purchased at the following:

Honolulu, HI

Mr. Hemp CBD: 286 N. School St., Suite B Honolulu, HI 96817.

2Higuys: 2570 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96826

Brahddahs Smoke Shop: 1232 Waimanu St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Waiola Vapor Store: 1164 Bishop St #1001, Honolulu, HI 96813

Kailua, HI

Black Lava Vape: 75-5660 Kopiko St. Ste. C2 Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Sub Ohm Vapes: 5543 Kaiwi St. Ste A135 Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Wailuku, HI

Still Smokin’: 346 North Market St, Wailuku, HI 96793

The Vape Shack: 808291 Hookahi St STE 101, Wailuku, HI 96793

Kapolei, HI

Fly Hi Hawaii:590 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, HI 96707
Ka Makana Ali’i:91-5431 Kapolei Pkwy, Kapolei, HI 96707

Conclusion on the Legality of CBD Oil in Hawaii

Hawaii was among the first states to introduce the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. With that legislation, the use of CBD oil derived from marijuana was made legal, but only for persons with select medical conditions. These products may be purchased from licensed state dispensaries and are only legal to be purchased by select persons.

For people who do not fall within the medical use provision, CBD oil may still be purchased from a variety of places. This CBD oil will have to be derived from industrial hemp with a THC level lower than 0.3%. CBD is at present not allowed to be put into consumables for recreational use and the State of Hawaii does appear to target the sale of these products.