Honolulu Police Try to Confiscate Cannabis Patients’ Guns but Backtrack
The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) thought they were going to confiscate medical cannabis patients’ guns – albeit voluntarily. They sent a letter to at least 30 registered medical marijuana patients in the city telling them they had 30 days to relinquish their firearms. Of course, their effort was met with hearty resistance, forcing the HPD police chief to make it clear that the letter “was incorrect,” even though her signature was on the letters.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Police Chief Susan Ballard backtracked on the policy and said they are currently “reviewing” the issue with other government agencies. She did confirm, however, that the department will continue to deny new gun permits to medical cannabis cardholders. The HPD has five officers who are authorized to cross-check the Department of Health’s cannabis registry with firearm permit applications. According to Chief Ballard, they do not release any patient information in that process.
The letters that went out cited state laws that reaffirm federal statutes berring anyone who uses a controlled substance from possession of a firearm. Marijuana (cannabis) is still listed as a Schedule I controlled substance.
State Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa, said the policy could keep some legitimate patients from using cannabis for fear of intrusion on their gun rights. Cannabis has been legal for medicinal use in Hawaii since 2000.
“This should not be the situation. Medical cannabis patients are responsible gun owners now, and should not be intruded upon by Hawaii enforcement due to their medicinal use,” he told Pacific Business News.
Carl Bergquist, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said on Hawaii Public Radio that the state is sending a “mixed message” with the policy.
“We’re hearing since 2000 that this is a medicine,” Bergquist said. “It’s really hard to understand why the state on the one hand is saying this is a medicine and on the other hand is saying, if you take this medicine, you are just de facto not allowed to have a weapon.”
Many newly legal states are struggling to balance the conflict between federal law and their own state’s cannabis laws. Most police departments have not taken enforcement action like confiscating weapons, but many are not issuing gun permits if they have the means of cross-checking applicants against a medical cannabis registry.