Aloha, everybody! The Gentleman has just returned from visiting every medical cannabis dispensary currently open in Hawaii. And I have thoughts! Make that several. Prepare your listening eyes and butts for a direct-to-brain download, Neo! You won’t learn kung fu, but you will know everything I’ve learned about Hawaii’s MMJ program.
Medical Marijuana Reciprocity
The awesome thing about Hawaii is they have instituted a medical marijuana reciprocity program that accepts cards from any other state’s medical program in the US!
But only if you have one of the conditions allowed under Hawaii law- you can find that list here. It includes chronic pain, severe/chronic muscle spasms, severe nausea, PTSD, and another 9 conditions that you’ll find in most programs. So you’re probably good.
Wait, no, the awesome thing is how easy it is to sign up as an out of state patient to apply for their Hawaii 329 medical cannabis card! All you gotta do is fill out a quick form on their website, upload pics of my documents, and pay the $49.50 fee.
They ask that you sign up no earlier than 60 days prior to your trip. I signed up, like, two weeks ahead of my trip, on March 29. Approval email came in April 1. Bingo bango, baby!
Unfortunately for their many international visitors, Hawaii only accepts medical marijuana cards from the US for now.
Gear Used for Hawaii Reviews
The Lynx Hypnos concentrate vaporizer pen from Aloha Green in Oahu cost $80 and didn’t work at all. I couldn’t be bothered to return it with the hectic pace of my trip.
I replaced it with a $36 Grenco G-Pen from Smokey’s Smoke Shop which wasn’t great, but to its credit, did actually function. Seemed to have trouble clearing the chamber so it got dirty quick.
That’s when I decided to stop mucking about and just get an EYCE silicon dab rig ($75) and a torch ($30) from Smokey’s. I liked that very much, in fact. So keep in mind there’s a few head shops around where you might be able to get cheaper gear than the dispensaries. All the concentrates tested were on the rig, with the exception of Big Island Grown’s.
Basic vape battery also picked up from Aloha Green- nothing fancy. All flowers were tested via hand-rolled RAW organic papers.
Hawaii Dispensary Info
Interesting points about Hawaii’s dispensaries you should know:
- The stores are completely vertically integrated by law. That means they must grow their own flower, process it in-house, and sell it from their own storefront.
- The dispensaries can not grow their flower outside! That means you won’t find the tropical strains you’d expect- except in one special case. Word is they are pushing for permission to use a greenhouse. Fingers crossed!
- In-state Hawaii patients can grow their own cannabis plants (up to 10 at a time). That means they’re not locked into the retail system, which forces the shops to compete with their own patients. An elegant, if not entirely perfect, solution!
- You can’t legally travel with medical cannabis between the different islands! You have to use what you purchase where you purchased it.
- It’s also freaking illegal to take pics inside a Hawaii dispensary. Yikes! So I don’t have any from the inside. I’m not that special just cuz I’m a weed jerk on the internet. Apparently.
- Hawaii’s eight open dispensaries are scattered on four different islands- Maui, Kauai, Hawaii (Big Island), & Oahu.
Which Hawaii Dispensary Should I Visit?
If you’re on Oahu, you can find all my favorite stuff between NOA Botanicals and Cure Oahu. Aloha Green has the better deals- you can get 10% off there without having to spend over a specific threshold.
I love Maui Grown Therapies enough to recommend them as a destination dispensary. Maui is less hectic than Oahu, too. If you just want to relax on the beach after enjoying some premium cannabis, Maui is the move.
If you’re traveling strictly for ganja, you can skip the other dispensaries. But if you’re gonna be on Big Island or Kauai anyway, B.I.G. and Green Aloha will take decent care of you.
Honolulu, Oahu Dispensaries
In Honolulu, all the dispensaries had an ATM on site. All three accepted CanPay if you prefer to use your debit card.
Cure Oahu is the closest to Waikiki, which is where you’re probably staying if you’re a tourist. It’s a fancy pants Apple store kinda dispensary, but with better art, and an enormous lobby and oversized touch screens at amply-spaced kiosks. It used to be a bank.
Friendly customer service agents are on hand to help guide you through the process of navigating the touchscreen. You can either place your order through them or at the counter like normal. Plus there are private areas to talk with staff if you have questions or concerns.
Cure Oahu only had one strain of flower available when I visited. Lots of topicals, though! I wanted to smell the rosin before purchase but their sample was old and dried up.
I bought it anyway, plus a vape and their THC capsules. Whoo momma.
- Kosher Wine flower 1 gram $20
- Motley Kush Nectar Vape Cartridge .5g $55
- Omega Drop THC Capsules $45 (LOVE THIS!)
- Wedding Cake Rosin $45 (THIS TOO!)
These prices do NOT reflect the 10% discount I got for spending over $100.
Aloha Green Apothecary
Aloha Green Apothecary is downtown Honolulu, about a 15 minute drive from Waikiki Beach. Convenient parking next door as they’re a suite in an office building. The lobby is small but comfortable, the sales counter perfectly lit. Counter area isn’t very spacious, which might be a challenge when recreational sales happen, but ok for now.
Aloha Green’s friendly staff let me smell several different flowers. I didn’t love everything, but I picked up an eighth of the one I liked best, Forum Cookies x Memory Loss. Turned out to be very good.
Prices below include 10% Member Discount for agreeing to let them send you text messages about sales.
- Forum Cookies x Memory Loss flower 1/8th $53.29
- Liquid Aloha Full Spectrum CO2 Vape Cartridge .5g $42.97
- Holy Grail Kush Shatter .5g $23.88 (SALE – normal $43)
- 24K Gold Rosin .5g $43
- Aloha Medicated Oral Mist Spray $34.38 (LOVE THIS!)
NOA Botanicals is also downtown Honolulu, a big, imposing blue building that looks like a former warehouse or manufacturing facility. It boasts its own large parking lot outside and a huge sales floor.
Their flowers are beautifully displayed in museum cases near the sales counters. It’s a very classy affair. But the lighting is a bit low.
Not every flower sample passed my smell test- I definitely found an ammonia in there, shame shame- but the Honey Banana eighth I picked out had some of the most delicious terps this nose has ever had the pleasure of sniffing.
- Honey Banana flower 1/8th $59.20
- 1:1 CBD/THC Tincture 15mL $33.43
- Green Crack Shatter .5g $38.20
- Golden Goat Full Spectrum CO2 Vape Cartridge .5g $57.30
- THC Body Lotion 4oz (101mg THC) $47.75
Both shops are conveniently located in Kahului, close to Maui’s main airport. You likely want to stay over in the tourist-friendly Lahaina on the other side of the island, though. Kahului is more of a locals area. It’s like a $50-60 Uber ride.
MGT accepts CanPay, so if you prefer to pay with a debit card, you can sign up for that program. Pono Life Maui is cash only.
Maui Grown Therapies
Maui Grown is where it’s aaaaaat, y’all. Guess who’s helping MGT out? You’ll never guess, I’ll tell you. Our same friends that help Abatin Wellness in DC grow some of my favorite flowers ever. That was freakin’ kismet.
The shop itself is lovely. Both lobbies are spacious & comfortable. Maui Grown has the professional TV menu displays and the lighting is good. Plus parking and ATM on site. And there’s a really good pizza shop down the block!
Maui Grown Therapies is where I found the only true tropical strain on my visit, their Royal Hawaiian. There are significant challenges to growing it indoors, but, man, they knocked it out of the park. The flowers smell sweet and smoke delicious. Screw you, Grammarly! I mean what I mean!
MGT is ready to go with tropical cannabis genetics as soon as they get the greenlight to grow outdoors! In the meantime, they have a wide selection of flowers, vapes, and ingestibles. No shatters, rosins, or other concentrates. Pity.
- Royal Hawaiian flower 1 gram $23.04
- TK91 Disposable Vape Cartridge .5g $37.44 (half off for 4/20!)
- Huckleberry Diesel Live Resin Cart .5g $62.40
- Serum Sampler Pack $27.84
Pono Life Maui
Pono Life Maui located in a bare strip mall, so parking is no problem. There’s a vape store next door and a Dunkin Donuts down the block. No ATM on site- you’ll have to go to the gas station across the lot.
The folks are very nice, the shop is perfectly lit, and they’ve got a separate conference room where they hold educational workshops.
But every Pono Life flower I smelled- and I sniffed every single one they had- smelled like hay to a greater or lesser degree. There’s certainly a challenge with growing in such a humid environment, but Pono Life hasn’t proved up to it yet.
The fact that Pono Life has named several strains with a “Maui” prefix is misleading. I understand it from a marketing perspective, but I don’t believe these are new genetics.
Pono Life’s capsules didn’t work at all for me. I took five at once, so around 50mg THC, and nada. Contrast with Cure Oahu.
- Maui Kush 1 gram $24
- THC Capsules (100mg total) $43.20
Hawaii (Big Island) Dispensary
There are two dispensaries currently open on Big Island, which is where Volcano National Park is and you’re gonna want to see that! Both are B.I.G. franchises.
Big Island Grown (B.I.G.)
I visited the shop in Hilo. It’s in a small shopping center not far from the airport, next to a vape shop and a vegan-friendly eatery. That’s a congruent little strip you got there, folks.
No ATM on site here. I had to go next door to the vegan place and use theirs.
The shop was small, like Aloha Green, and the lighting was good. Ok selection of products- they had several flowers available but only one concentrate that I couldn’t smell first and no vapes.
I didn’t love most of the flowers I smelled from their near-empty jars, but my samples smoked decent. They had a wide selection of flowers but only a few were available by the gram, which was unfortunate, as they didn’t include the ones I thought smelled best.
I picked up two grams to kinda balance that out. Now that I think about it, I could have got an eighth of the one I liked best for $12 more, darn it. I ended up really liking the Lemon Kush cuz it gave me an awesome mood boost at the end of the night without making me tired or affecting my ability to think clearly.
The rosin turned out to smell like ammonia. Quite disappointing. Super helpful staff, though. They just emailed me my lost receipt. Nice!
- Jilly Bean flower 1 gram $10 (SALE)
- Lemon Kush flower 1 gram $18
- J1 Rosin 1 gram $60
Kauai has one dispensary located in Kapa’a, not far from the airport, next to a super-chill beach and a few low-key restaurant/bars.
Green Aloha Dispensary
Ok at first I freaked out at the name, worried that I had flown all the way to Kauai just to try Aloha Green again. The two dispensaries are not the same! It seems like some mix-ups are inevitable.
Green Aloha reminds me of the temporary buildings we had classes in while contractors fixed up the real school. It’s pretty dark inside the shop- I’d like to see that improved. Small parking area adjacent to the building, no worries there.
There’s plenty of room inside but they have no lobby- they just check your ID and card from window at the door, then let you in. And they did have an ATM handy, which is good, cuz there was nothing next door.
The selection of products was slim on my visit. Four or five flowers, a couple kiefs, one rosin, no vapes at all, and out of capsules until the afternoon.
I declined the tincture and the rosin, as they only sold it by the gram ($85) and it was an unappetizing, lumpy brown. Dark rosin can be ok, yes, definitely. But golden rosin is a thing, you know!
I picked up a gram of their WiFi OG for $20 even. The smell was decent, it was quite sticky with resin, and it was a smooth smoke. Calmed me down and helped me enjoy the rest of the day, trekking my briefcase between the bar and a quiet beach in the town of Kapa’a. Didn’t see a cop all day long.
Best Cannabis Flowers in Hawaii
- Maui Grown Therapies– their Royal Hawaiian was a real treat and I’m confident you’ll find more top-notch flowers to choose from. These growers know what they’re doing. One hundred percent.
- NOA Botanicals (Oahu)– their Honey Banana on its own merits would force a tie for the top spot, but I was less impressed with some of the other flowers I smelled.
- Aloha Green (Oahu)– their Forum Cookies x Memory Loss also smelled very nice once ground and was quite potent. I felt incredibly paranoid every time I smoked it.
- Green Aloha (Kauai)– their WiFi OG definitely meets the Gentleman’s standards and was very sticky with resin. Good potency. They just don’t have many to choose from.
- Big Island Grown– the Jillybean & the other one both turned out ok. Not amazing, but ok. The Jillybean turned my driver into an absolute chatterbox. Very nice guy. I paid him extra for not murdering me.
- Cure Oahu– the Kosher Wine strain I tried smelled decent and was super sticky. That’s good! But it was still wet and difficult to burn. What I could taste through the joint runs was alright, though. They only had that one flower.
- Pono Life Maui– the Maui Kush I tried smelled the least like hay out of all the samples. And it still smelled like hay. Plus it smoked harsh. I was not a fan.
The cheapest gram came from Big Island Grown. Not only was their Jilly Bean on sale for $10, the Lemon Kush was only $18, the lowest non-sale price. Highest was Pono Life at $24.
Even though I bought eighths at two shops, I confirmed their standard gram pricing falls between these two. FYI, Aloha Green has cheap sales like B.I.G.
Photos of each flower reviewed are in the Dispensary section above.
Best Vape Cartridges in Hawaii
Big Island Grown, Cure Oahu, and Pono Life Maui dispensaries had no vapes on the menu at all. They’re still working out the tech. Here’s how I’d rank those available at the other shops:
- Maui Grown Therapies– the disposable pen I tried was perfectly smooth. More of a daytime potency, but they’ve got a wide selection of Live Resin CO2 carts if you need something stronger. Yum!
- NOA Botanicals (Oahu)– NOA has both distillate and CO2 carts. I tried the CO2. Very smooth, just the tiniest backbite. Almost perfect. Seriously potent. Count me impressed.
- Aloha Green (Oahu)– Aloha also has distillate and CO2 vape cartridges. Again, I tried the CO2. Definitely above average and worthy of the Gentleman’s approval. Not quite as tasty or smooth as those above.
- Cure Oahu– AVOID. Supposedly CO2 but tastes heavily of glycol and produces huge, effortless clouds that suggest the same. Gross. I hate it.
Technically cheapest is Maui Grown’s disposables at $37.44 but for full potency, cheapest was Aloha Green’s at $42.97. The rest were $55-$60.
Best Edibles in Hawaii
Traditional marijuana edibles are not available in Hawaii. They compensate in the same way Maryland did, with tinctures and capsules.
The logistics of my trip made trying edibles from every shop unfeasible. However, I can say beyond any doubt that the capsules I purchased from Cure Oahu were the most potent ingestible or edible I have ever tried.
It’s not even a contest. I was straight busted off of five capsules both times I tested them. The second time was before my flight home. I was out of my head before boarding.
Despite some congestion, I threw my head back and fell asleep effortlessly for the next three hours, rip-snoring with my jaw hanging open the entire time.
That’s how you assert dominance, friends.
If you like potent edibles, you definitely want to hit up Cure Oahu for caps. Good Lord. Wish I could have brought some back. It was $45 for 10 caps and they each tested at 13.9mg of total THC (and .02 CBD), so just under 140mg total.
Perhaps you prefer something mild and discreet? Aloha Green’s medicated Oral Spray was freaking awesome. It’s mostly THC, but has a little bit of CBD in it. You can see the exact test results in the photo below. 235mg of THC for $35 doesn’t seem too bad.
5-6 sprays had me grounded, chill, and shifted my brain out of neutral. And you can’t get much more discreet than breath spray, so long as you don’t stare directly at a cop while huffing it. Love love love this product!
Beyond that, the tincture from NOA Botanicals was rather ineffective (and gross, but neutral gross, and it didn’t burn). The capsules from Pono Life Maui didn’t do anything.
Best Concentrate in Hawaii
Pono Life Maui had no concentrate on the menu. Neither did Maui Grown Therapies. I neglected to try Green Aloha in Kauai, cuz they only had 1 rosin for $85 a gram, I didn’t like the way it looked, and I was in no mood.
Out of the others that I tried:
- Cure Oahu– their rosin was was delicious, light in color, easy to handle. Perfect smell, delicious flavor, enjoyable buzz. An absolute delight. Selection was limited to 3 rosin types on my visit.
- NOA Botanicals (Oahu)– I picked up their Green Crack shatter. Very clean smoke, beautiful amber color, not much flavor. They had the widest selection of shatters and rosins of all the shops.
- Aloha Green (Oahu)– I tried a half gram of rosin and a half gram of sale shatter. They’re acceptable. Both tasted earthy, possibly too much fat left in the final product, but I wasn’t impressed with either. They had the second-widest selection. I’d go with the rosin.
- Big Island Grown– the only rosin reeked & tasted of ammonia. Y’all got to learn the difference.
Cheapest was B.I.G. at $60 for a full gram, though I could have got a full gram of on-sale shatter from Aloha Green for $50 that was better quality. NOA was $38 for a half-gram, so $76 for a full gram- that’s your best value option. Cure Oahu’s lovely rosin was $45 for a half-gram, so $90 for a full. Standard price for Aloha is about the same.
Hawaii THC Topicals
Dispensary topicals aren’t cheap! Besides that, I need a situation to try them out to really review, so I only tried two.
I was sporting a wicked sunburn when I tried the THC Body Lotion from NOA Botanicals. I had applied an over-the-counter aloe gel throughout the previous day, which helped.
But within five minutes of applying the NOA Botanicals THC lotion, a deep cooling sensation permeated the burned skin and provided long-lasting relief. I continued to use it even though I was in much less pain than I had been prior to the first application.
I can’t say enough about NOA Botanicals THC lotion. Definitely worth checking out.
I also tried the serum sampler from Maui Grown Therapies. That was an accident, I thought I was getting edibles. Oops.
But it may have been fortuitous. My big toe was sprained from climbing a muddy, root-strewn hillside in Kauai days earlier. It was still quite sore. I also had a bunch of small red bumps on the tops of both feet.
I tried the Calm out on the toe and the Cool out on the odd beach rash. Both serums sat heavily on top of the skin- I could see the oil clearly outlined on my feet the next morning.
The red bumps were nearly gone from my left foot! And they were on the way out on more heavily-affected right foot- about 50%. They disappeared entirely the next day.
My toe healed significantly over that same period. My toe sported three separate, heavy bruises prior to application. It was a serious sprain, at least in my experience of never having a sprained toe before. The next day, both smaller bruises had nearly vanished and the main one looked a lot more normal.
I noticed some pain reduction that day but was still careful with it. The next, I was confident walking again at a slow pace after days of limping. Hard to pin that directly on to Maui Grown Therapies’ serum versus time, but I think the rapid bruise changes are proof it helped.
No, I didn’t take Before/After pictures of either. I considered it, but decided that’d be gross. Eww.
More Hot Takes!
Hawaii’s medical marijuana program is still in its early stages. While it’s been going as long as Maryland’s, it’s a much smaller program and more similar in structure to DC’s medical program.
Maui Grown and NOA Botanicals look to be ahead of the pack and could be ready for recreational sales soon. Cure Oahu and Aloha Green are behind, but not far off. The others have ground to make up.
Hawaii’s government is very anti-smoking and this extends to cannabis. They really don’t want you to smoke it in your hotel or on the street. Vaping is fine. Edibles are fine. Smoking on Oahu could get you in trouble. Same if you’re careless in Maui. Seemed more chill and easier to get off the beaten path in Kauai and Big Island.
I love that medical patients have the right to grow their own medicine. That’ll keep the dispensaries honest until recreational hits. Then it’ll just be more profitable to deal with rich tourists, many of which are international travelers.
I’d really like to see these folks able to grow outdoors so we can get some tropical strains in! No Maui Wowie was a real bummer. Sounds like this could change soon.
Even then, humidity control is still gonna be a challenge post-harvest.
Pricing on the islands overall is high. There aren’t many deals to be had. I saw as high as $27 a gram for flower (Pono) and $100 for a gram of concentrate (Aloha Green). But pricing in Hawaii for everything is high.
FYI, every product I bought in Hawaii was tested by Steep Hill Labs. Another familiar face from home. And once again, I’ll point out that lab testing doesn’t catch marijuana defects like ammonia and hay!
Hemp Flowers & CBD
If you want CBD/hemp, you can find that everywhere. Smoke shops like Smokey’s carry lots of products, including hemp flower, and I even saw a spa advertising CBD massages in Waikiki’s upscale International Market.
Also, I got in the ocean like four times and wasn’t bitten by a shark once. I don’t know if I’ll risk five. Think I’ll just take the win. Aloha!