Access to medical marijuana in Hawaii just got easier for out-of-state patients.

The state Department of Health announced this week that visitors to Hawaii eligible to receive medical marijuana elsewhere in the US will now be able to register and buy it while visiting the islands.

An online registration system that allows qualified patients to quickly obtain an electronic registration card was also announced on Tuesday.

The department said that the new system enables out-of-state patients to register before arriving in Hawaii, so they can purchase from certified dispensaries on arrival.

“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 Bruce Anderson, director of the state Department of Health.

These medical marijuana-permitting jurisdictions include 33 other states, Washington, D.C., and four US territories.

Out-of-state patients can register up to 60 days before visiting for a $49.50 application fee. Applicants must submit an ID and their medical marijuana registration from their home state.

Individuals can apply twice in a calendar year, each time for the maximum of 60 days. They can then purchase up to 4 ounces (113 grams) of cannabis for each 15-day period.

Educating visitors on local laws

Tami Whitney, of the department’s Medical Cannabis Registry Program, said that “dispensaries will also help educate visitors on state laws and regulations that govern the use of medical cannabis in Hawaii, such as restrictions on public use and transport.”

According to department figures, dispensaries sold 1,569 pounds (711.7 kilograms) of medical marijuana worth $12.6 million last year.

The online registration process will be speedy, said the Health Department. According to the announcement, electronic registration cards, instead of physical IDs, will allow out-of-state patients to obtain documents “quickly and easily, often within the same day.”

However, approval time might depend on the volume of applications received.

“For many patients who rely on medical cannabis to treat their qualifying health conditions,” department officials said, “time is of the essence.”

The Department of Health’s website offers online access to the portal. There, qualifying patients can create an account and submit supporting documentation showing they’re eligible. These include a valid cannabis registration card from other jurisdictions, a government-issued ID, and certification “in your ‘home’ state as having one or more debilitating medical conditions identified in Hawaii State Law.”

Despite the expanded eligibility rules, Canadian residents are not yet able to receive medical marijuana in Hawaii as the state does not currently accept international registration cards.

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