The Honolulu police department has issued a letter to Hawaiian medical marijuana patients that they must voluntarily turn in their guns. Hawaii\’s move disarming its medical marijuana patients is in part about federal law but also about the state\’s own rules.
This is the first time a state has actually taken action to take away firearms from state legal marijuana users. Hawaiian elected officials have been reluctant to embrace medical marijuana laws that were passed a long time ago, but the state is now moving forward with the most recent medical marijuana legislation.
The letters, signed by Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, inform patients that they have 30 days upon receipt of the letter to transfer ownership or turn in their firearms and ammunition to the Honolulu Police.
The clash between state marijuana laws and federal firearms law—which prohibits all cannabis patients and consumers from purchasing firearms—is a growing point of legal contention in the 29 states with medical marijuana laws.
The Honolulu letters, however, may represent the first time a law enforcement agency has proactively sought out state-registered medical marijuana patients and ordered them to surrender their guns.
Federal law clearly prohibits anyone who consumes cannabis—for any reason, and regardless of state legality—from purchasing a firearm. On the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Form 1140-0020, which must be completed by firearm purchasers, applicants are asked if they are “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.”
Many state laws allow patients to medicate with cannabis, but the federal prohibition on cannabis consumption crosses that legality when it comes to firearms. The supremacy of federal law on this point was upheld last year by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Honolulu Police Department cites state law, not federal law, as the basis for the order. “Under the provisions of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 134-7(a), you are disqualified from firearms ownership,” says the letter.
Patients have 30 days to turn in their firearms, however it is unknown exactly what authorities will do should people fail to comply. Would you be willing to turn in your firearm to have the right to legally use medical marijuana?