(ANTIMEDIA) — The Honolulu Police Department is sending letters to medical marijuana patients warning them that they have thirty days to “voluntarily” hand over their firearms. The authorities’ effort, which has reportedly been underway since January, is in line with a 2016 ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that determined medical marijuana patients must forfeit their right to bear arms.
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“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” Susan Ballard, the new chief of police said in the letter dated November 13.
The letter warns recipients that they “have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender [their] firearms.”
The Star Advertiser reports that the letter, sent to about 30 medical marijuana patients on Oahu, cites Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 134-7 (a) to justify the government’s demands that medical marijuana users sacrifice their weapons. According to that section:
“No person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition therefor.”
Because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, some states are opting to revoke firearm ownership for those who use the plant. This was solidified in a 2016 court ruling from the 9th circuit court, which has jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state.
A Nevada medical marijuana patient, S. Rowan Wilson, filed a lawsuit in 2011 after a gun store owner declined to sell her a firearm because of her patient status, citing the fact that cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.
The court ultimately decided last year in a 3-0 ruling that having a medical marijuana license implies marijuana use, which the court claimed “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
Wilson’s attorney, Chaz Rainey, rejected the court’s rationale. “We live in a world where having a medical marijuana card is enough to say you don’t get a gun, but if you’re on the no fly list your constitutional right is still protected,” he said.Further, despite the circuit court’s claims that cannabis causes irrational behavior, research has linked legalization to a reduction in violence. Though recent research shows it is connected with an increase in violent tendencies among youth with mental disorders, other research has suggested violence does not increase in areas where it is legal.
Rather, a 2014 analysis of data found it “ is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault.” They added that while they could not establish causality, their “findings indicated that MML [medical marijuana legalization] precedes a reduction in homicide and assault.”
In contrast, alcohol, a “legal” drug that is consequently not considered grounds for denying someone’ right to own a gun, is widely documented to increase aggressive behavior.
As far back as 1997, researchers reported that as much as “up to 86 percent of homicide offenders, 37 percent of assault offenders, 60 percent of sexual offenders, up to 57 percent of men and 27 percent of women involved in marital violence, and 13 percent of child abusers” were using alcohol when they committed their abuses.
”There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in 2011.
This was reaffirmed by the 2016 circuit court ruling. Regarding the current situation in Honolulu, the Miami Herald reported:
“Michelle Yu, a spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department, wrote in an email to the Honolulu Civil Beat that medical weed patients have had their permits for gun ownership denied ‘for years.’ That includes 67 patients from between 2013 to 2016.”