Your Rights as a Patient

The following is for informational purposes only. In any situation in which you need legal advice, we strongly encourage you to find a lawyer.

By registering with the Department of Public Safety as a medical cannabis patient or caregiver, you are certifying that you are complying with Hawai‘i law and which should ordinarily prevent an arrest for marijuana-related crimes.  However, there may be circumstances where an officer will still confront medical cannabis patients even though they may be following the law.  These are some simple guidelines you should follow to prevent police officers from harassing you and what to do if you find yourself in a situation with police.

To help prevent any interactions with the police:

1) It is against Hawai‘i law to use medical cannabis in a moving vehicle. Keep your medicine and related materials out of sight/in the trunk of your car.  By keeping all materials, including medicine, papers, pipe, etc, in your trunk, officers will not have any probable cause to accuse you of driving under the influence.  They may have probable cause if they smell smoke in the car, so take precautions before getting into a vehicle.

2) It is against Hawai‘i law to use medical cannabis in public areas, on school grounds, or at the workplace. Use your medicine in private. Do not allow any journalists to photograph you using your medicine.

3) Keep all materials related to your medicine out of sight, even in your own home. Do not give the police any reason to search you or your residence.

4) If you have a grow site for your medicine, do not tell anyone.  Do not allow journalists to film your grow site in any manner.

5) Carry your Hawai‘i Blue Card with you at all times.  If a law enforcement officer stops you, have them call the Hawai‘i Narcotics Enforcement Division to verify your enrollment in the program.

Interacting with law enforcement officials
If a police officer stops you, you have rights as a registered medical cannabis patient or caregiver.  

  1. First, above all else, be polite.  Shouting, swearing, name-calling, etc, will not help your situation at all.  Always extend courtesy to the police, even if they are not extending it to you.  NEVER touch an officer, even in a non-aggressive way.  Keep your hands to your sides at all times.
  2. Speak carefully.  It’s not illegal to decline to answer questions.
  3. Never interfere with or obstruct police – you can be arrested for it.
  4. If officers approach your home, speak to them outside your home.  Close the door behind you.
  5. If they ask to search your home, your car, or your person, you have the right to NOT consent.  Politely say, “I do not consent to a search.”  
    1. You cannot be arrested for refusal to consent.  If you consent, it can affect your rights in court.
    2. Police may search your car or “pat down” your clothes for weapons when they believe there is “probable cause” to do so.
    3. Police may enter your home if an emergency condition exists.
  6. If they have a warrant to search your home, check to make sure that it has your name, a current date, and a judge has signed it.
  7. Ask if you’re under arrest.  If yes, you have the right to know why.  If not, you are free to leave.
  8. If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent.  Save your defense for court.  Ask to call your lawyer or a public defender immediately. The public defenders offices are:
    1. Oahu – 808-586-2100
    2. Maui/Molokai/Lanai – 808-984-5018
    3. Kauai – 808-271-7128
    4. Hilo – 808-974-4571
    5. Kona – 808-322-1945

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