The Honolulu Police Department said it is reviewing a controversial policy that requires legal marijuana patients to surrender their guns because pot is considered a federally illegal drug.
The policy review follows community backlash since news of the letters sent to at least 30 legal medical cannabis users and permitted gun owners spread nationally this week via marijuana websites and the media.
HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said some of the letters that were sent out starting in January may have been authorized by police commanders but not necessarily by the new police chief, Susan Ballard. Ballard’s name is at the bottom of the most recent letter, dated Nov. 13, along with HPD Maj. Raymond Ancheta, but only Ancheta’s signature appears on a copy viewed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“There are some letters that are sent out that are signed by commanders,” Yu said today.
The most recent notice says: “Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition. If you currently own or have any firearms, you have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms, permit and ammunition to the Honolulu Police Department or otherwise transfer ownership.”
Federal law prohibits an “unlawful user” of any controlled substance from possessing firearms, and under federal law, marijuana is a controlled substance.
The initiative continues three months after Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened for business.