The Honolulu Police Department is retracting the orders they recently gave medical marijuana patients to surrender their firearms. Current registered medical marijuana patients in Hawaii were recently sent letters demanding that they surrender their firearms to local police. This changed last week when Honolulu police chief Susan Ballard ended the requirement that MMJ patients get rid of their guns.
Honolulu Police Chief Admits Making MMJ Patients Turn in Firearms was Incorrect
“Merely having a medical card doesn’t mean you’re using marijuana,” Ballard said recently regarding her decision. “We can’t prove you’re using marijuana. Our practice of have them turn in their firearms was incorrect.”
Honolulu is located on the Big Island. It’s here that 38 percent of over 17,500 registered medical marijuana patients in Hawaii reside. Two people of those registered for medical marijuana in Honolulu voluntarily surrendered their firearms after receiving the letter. The police department will return them their guns.
MMJ Patients Can Keep Guns, But Can’t Get New Ones
Registered medical marijuana patients in Honolulu can keep their guns, but they won’t be allowed to buy new ones. Steven Levinson, member of the Honolulu Police Commission and retired state Supreme Court Judge wants to know why the Honolulu Police Department is refusing gun permits for medical marijuana patients, but not patients who use stronger prescription drugs.
“I’m a little puzzled,” Levinson said, “as to why the distinction between medical cannabis and medical opioids.”
Medical marijuana is legal under state law in Hawaii, and there are many people working to end the stigma still associated with its use. Carl Bergquist, Drug Policy of Hawaii Executive Director, says that the police should reevaluate state laws.
“On behalf of physicians, nurses, caregivers and patients involved in the medical cannabis program,” Bergquist said, “the assumption that they’re all impaired or a danger to society is a great insult. A policy like this could push people out of the regulated system. We think these patients should not be stigmatized in this fashion.”
The fact that Honolulu police retracted is a bit of a step forward. The fact that they demanded MMJ patients to turn in their guns however, shows how much work still needs to be done to end the stigma that surrounds the use of cannabis.