By Brian Henry
If you’ve already got a medical marijuana card, you might want to consider Hawaii as your next vacation destination.
Hawaii now allows visitors qualified for medical marijuana elsewhere in the U.S. to register to purchase cannabis in the state. Pedro Haro, executive director of the Hawaii Educational Association for Therapeutic Healthcare, told Cheddar the decision to allow its visitors to buy medical cannabis aligns with Hawaiian values.
“We’re trying to take care of our visitors. The idea is that Hawaii has a history of treating our visitors with 'Aloha.' This is just another way that Hawaii welcomes our visitors into our shores. Taking care of people, making sure that they’re well fed, well taken care of, is part of our local culture. This is really exemplifying our local culture.”
Those interested in applying to buy cannabis in Hawaii need to have a medical marijuana card from the state they’re originating from and a state ID to match. From there, the process only requires filling out a simple form online. Harro estimates that the entire registration takes no longer than five minutes.
“We recommend that people apply about two weeks before they need the medical cannabis card while they’re traveling in Hawaii,” Haro told Cheddar. “It's good up to 60 days and you can apply up to 60 days ahead of time, so there’s really no reason that anybody wouldn’t be able to apply that currently has a medical marijuana card.”
Once approved, users are afforded the same protections local medical marijuana patients have.
“You’re allowed to enter the dispensaries and able to purchase legal cannabis product from Hawaii. It also protects you to be able to carry up to 4 ounces of usable cannabis with you.”
Haro cautioned that this is not a free-for-all. Marijuana is still illegal in the state and visitors must abide by the law.
“Be mindful, Hawaii has some of the strictest smoke-free laws in the nation. So you can’t smoke anywhere that it is not legal to smoke and obviously you can’t smoke cannabis in public. You do still have to adhere to all of the smoking laws.”
With dispensaries on all of the islands aside from Lanai and Molokai, access will be relatively easy for visitors. Haro said the dispensaries are ready to meet the new demands.
“The dispensaries have been operational for the last 18 months. They have been able to provide supply for our local populations. They are now in the prime place to be able to adopt the out-of-state patient program without really having difficulty because we had that ramp-up period.”
It’s too early to tell if the new program has boosted tourism, but Haro is optimistic.
“What we know is, no one should have to decide between getting to travel to paradise and choosing their medication. This will definitely open up a world of opportunities for people who have debilitating illnesses, severe pain, PTSD who are not really comfortable traveling without having other medication nearby.”
For full interview click here.