The Honolulu Police Department had a simple message for medical marijuana patients with registered firearms—give up all of your guns.
Voluntarily, of course.
Susan Ballard, Honolulu’s new police chief, has mailed letters to around 30 medical marijuana patients thus far, stating they have 30 days to surrender all firearms in coherence with state law.
“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” the letter says. “You have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms.”
The letter cites Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 134-7 (a) as the primary reason for the firearm ban.
“No person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition therefore,” the statute notes.
The Honolulu Police Department also stated that anybody seeking a future gun license would require a medical doctor’s clearance. Additionally, MMJ patients would have to wait an entire calendar year after the expiration of their medical cards to re-apply for a gun permit.
Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu downplayed the ordinance and mentioned this will simply be standard procedure going forward.
“Checking the database is now part of the department’s standard background verification for all gun applicants,” Yu said.
According to the Honolulu Star Advisor, the police have been sending the letters since January 1. The incident marks the first time law enforcement has actively sought out MMJ patients and ordered them to give up their firearms.
Final Hit: Honolulu Medical Marijuana Patients Forced To Turn In Guns
Despite the controversy surrounding the letters, the situation shouldn’t come as a shock for those with a working knowledge of U.S. federal law.
Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms released a revised version of Form 4473, which explicitly forbids any cannabis users—recreational or medicinal—from purchasing any firearms.
“The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside,” the form states.
James Logue, a disabled veteran and Honolulu resident, expressed his displeasure with the letters, regardless of federal or state law.
“There’s plenty of people on prescription pain medications who are a lot more dangerous,” Logue said. “If you look at all the mass shootings and the shootings in Chinatown and Waikiki, it’s illegal drug use, it’s prescription medication. It’s a waste of time and resources, especially because there are plenty people who’ve committed domestic violence and sexual assault, and they’re still out there with their weapons and they’re not being told to turn them in.”
The executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary Alliance, Chris Garth also panned the state’s law and believes treating MMJ patients like criminals is erroneous on the HPD’s end.
“Medical cannabis is not a public safety issue, it’s a public health issue,” he said. “And to continue to criminalize medical cannabis patients is archaic and wildly inappropriate.