While cannabidiol (CBD) is permitted for registered medical marijuana patients in Hawaii, the legal status of CBD is complex. As with the rest of the United States, Hawaii has seen an explosion in the popularity of CBD, with a wide variety of stores and businesses now selling CBD oil and other CBD products. However, CBD technically remains illegal in the state.
The Hawaii Department of Health has devoted significant effort toward reminding businesses and consumers alike that CBD and CBD products have never been legal in Hawaii. Despite these warnings, it is still quite easy to find both online and in stores to purchase CBD products.
It remains to be seen how authorities in the state might enforce CBD laws moving forward. Similarly, it remains unclear how these laws might change in the future.
What is CBD?
CBD is the second-most-prevalent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Generally speaking, THC produces marijuana's intoxicating effects while CBD is non-intoxicating and offers a wide array of potential therapeutic and medicinal qualities.
To date, researchers have identified a number of potential health benefits linked to CBD, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and anti-seizure properties. Further, the cannabinoid has shown promise in treating numerous health conditions, including epilepsy and other seizure disorders, mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, as well as chronic pain and much more.
As research on CBD continues to unearth new findings, there is a growing body of evidence pointing to its potential efficacy in medical applications and as a health supplement.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Even though hemp strains don't produce enough THC to cause intoxication, all types of cannabis, including hemp, were considered illegal under the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation swept all cannabis into the Schedule 1 category, which defined cannabis as a substance with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a likelihood for addiction.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and created a legal threshold between hemp and marijuana, both of which are cannabis plants and look identical. Hemp is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, and marijuana is cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC. Hemp-derived CBD was thus descheduled by the bill, but CBD that is derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal because marijuana is categorized as a Schedule 1 substance.
The Farm Bill also granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate CBD's labeling, therapeutic claims, and its use as a food additive. Despite the passage of the Farm Bill, the FDA has taken the stance that even hemp-derived CBD may not be added to food and beverages, nor marketed as dietary supplements. While the FDA has begun a process of reevaluating its stance on such CBD products, it has yet to revise its rules or specifically regulate CBD products.
The federal government thus still highly regulates the production and sale of hemp, and its cannabinoids, including CBD. The Farm Bill also provides that states may regulate and even prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. In addition, states may attempt to regulate CBD food, beverage, dietary supplement, and cosmetic products, independently of the FDA finalizing its views on such products.
Hawaii CBD laws
In 2019, the Hawaii Department of Health explicitly clarified the state's stance on CBD. In a statement published May 1, 2019, officials advised the public that Hawaii state laws regarding CBD adhere to all federal laws. The department has stated that it intends to regulate all cannabis-derived products in alignment with the FDA.
The Hawaii Department of Health has notified local business about the illegal status of CBD products, warning that regulatory actions and criminal penalties may be given to those who knowingly manufacture, distribute, or sell CBD products in Hawaii.
Further clarifying the prohibition of CBD in the state, the official website of the Hawaii Department of Health claims that state law prohibits the addition of any cannabis-derived substances to food, beverages, or cosmetics, nor does it approve the use of CBD in over-the-counter products.
The only exception to this is registered medical marijuana patients. Those who have a qualifying health condition and have received the appropriate approval from a licensed doctor can apply for a medical marijuana card. This card allows patients to purchase medical cannabis products containing CBD and THC from a state-approved medical marijuana dispensary.
Despite the state's advisories, CBD is reportedly widely available throughout Hawaii at stores, health food shops, restaurants, cafes, and other retail locations. Under the Hawaii Food and Drug Cosmetic Act, state officials have the authority to remove CBD products from store shelves, and even to impose fines of up to $10,000 per violation per day on businesses selling CBD products. But so far, the state has chosen to avoid levying punishments, opting instead to focus on educational programs aimed at clarifying CBD laws. As of August 2019, officials had contacted more than 100 businesses that were selling CBD products to talk to them about CBD's illegal status.
State authorities have also noted that CBD laws are likely to change in the future. But any such changes, they say, will not come from state lawmakers, but from federal ones. In the Hawaii Department of Health's May 2019 briefing, Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson stated that Hawaii will await national guidance on any laws related to CBD.
Hawaii CBD possession limits
Since CBD oil and other CBD products are technically not legal in Hawaii, consumers are not allowed to purchase or possess any amount of CBD. As a result, the only real limits in place are for registered medical marijuana patients. In that case, patients are allowed to have up to 4 ounces, or 113 grams, of cannabis at any given time. Patients or a licensed caregiver can also grow up to seven marijuana plants at a time.
Where to buy CBD in Hawaii
CBD oil or any other CBD products are illegal in Hawaii unless you're a registered medical marijuana patient, in which case you can purchase CBD products at a legal dispensary.
Everyone else will need to search for a shop that continues to sell CBD despite the state's prohibition. Currently, it is relatively easy to find places to buy CBD oil and other CBD products. Even after the initial warnings levied by the Department of Health, you can still purchase CBD either online or in a brick and mortar shop.
When it comes to online sales, CBD is most frequently found on brand-specific websites. You can find an extensive list of trusted CBD brands on Weedmaps.
On these sites you can see important product details including the form of CBD, how much CBD the product contains, what other ingredients are in the product, and more.
When purchasing from a store, you can typically get in-person help and expertise from an employee. Explain what you're looking for and your reasons for consuming CBD and they can point you in the right direction.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
Most reputable CBD producers will typically include the following information on their CBD product labels:
- Amount of active CBD per serving.
- Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients.
- Net weight.
- Manufacturer or distributor name.
- Suggested use.
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.
- Batch or date code.
One of the most important things to pay attention to is whether a CBD product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.
Full-spectrum means that the CBD has been extracted from a hemp plant along with all other cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as trace amounts of THC the plant may have produced. Consuming full-spectrum CBD may yield better results thanks to the entourage effect, a phenomenon in which the entire mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce a more effective experience.
Broad-spectrum means that the product contains CBD and terpenes, but has undergone additional processes to strip out THC.
CBD isolate is a product that has gone through more intensive processing to remove everything except for CBD. Consuming isolate may produce different effects than full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD, as these products do not produce the entourage effect.