Hawaiian authorities have asked medical marijuana users to “voluntarily surrender” firearms due to their medicinal status. This may mark the first time a law enforcement entity has moved to confiscate guns from cannabis patients.
Marijuana users in Honolulu are expected to turn over all firearms and ammunition to the state within 30 days of receiving the notice, according to a letter signed by police chief Susan Ballard, reported the website Leafly.
The state’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened in August, but federal law prevents patients who ingest cannabis from owning a firearm. Marijuana is still categorized as a Schedule I drug by the government and is considered in the same league as ecstasy and heroin.
Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational use, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) issued a letter in 2011 saying there will be no exceptions for weed users with regard to gun ownership. The agency stated:
Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition. – ATF
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in September 2016 against laws prohibiting medical marijuana patients from owning a gun, but unanimously ruled in favor of the government. The restrictions did not infringe upon patients’ second amendment rights because cannabis was found to cause”irrational or unpredictable behavior,” the panel said.