Hawaii has legal medical marijuana, but be careful, because if you’re a gun owner, and you legally use marijuana, Hawaii proposes to give you a good one right up the tailpipe. Excerpts with my comments follow:
Hawaii is one of 29 states that allow medical use of marijuana, but it is the only state that requires registration of all firearms. If you are familiar with the criteria that bar people from owning guns under federal law, you can probably surmise what the conjunction of these two facts means for patients who use cannabis as a medicine, which Hawaii allows them to do only if they register with the state. This month many of them received a letter from Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, instructing them to turn in their guns.
“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” Ballard says in the November 13 letter, which Leafly obtained this week after Russ Belville noted it in his Marijuana Agenda podcast. “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 (HPD) or otherwise transfer ownership. A medical doctor’s clearance letter is required for any future firearms applications or return of firearms from HPD evidence.” (Emphasis added by me.)
Voluntarily? Voluntarily? Fucking voluntarily? My ass – the state of Hawaii is using the full force and power of the state government to confiscate the property of law-abiding gun owners. You know, in direct contrast to every pro-gun control prog who ever bleated “oh, we don’t want to confiscate anyone’s guns!” Oh, and “oh, registration won’t lead to confiscation! You’re just being paranoid!” Well, Hawaii is giving a huge upraised middle finger to those claims – aloha, my middle-aged butt.
As authority for disarming medical marijuana users, Ballard cites Section 134-7(a) of Hawaii’s Revised Statutes, which says “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.” The relevant federal provision prohibits possession of firearms by anyone who is “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Since federal law does not recognize any legitimate reason for consuming cannabis, all use is unlawful use, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives makes clear in a boldfaced warning on the form that must be completed by anyone buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer: “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
And yet 28 other states, in a rare display of Federalism, have decided not to give a rat’s ass about this particular Imperial restriction, since marijuana is legal within their borders. And in any case, that restriction applies to new sales of guns; it doesn’t give a state government license to confiscate the property of private, law-abiding citizens.
Most people probably do not realize how casually the federal government strips Americans of their Second Amendment rights, because enforcement of these longstanding rules is spotty and haphazard. Federal law notionally bars gun ownership by all of America’s 38 million or so cannabis consumers, along with millions of other unlawful users of controlled substances, including anyone who takes a medication prescribed for someone else or uses it for a purpose different from the one specified by a doctor (for back pain rather than tooth pain, say). But enforcing that ban is difficult because the FBI and the ATF generally don’t know who the unlawful users are. Hawaii has begun to lick that problem and therefore can give us a sense of what “enforcing the laws that are already on the books,” as the NRA frequently recommends, would look like in practice.
There’s an obvious answer: The Imperial government should decriminalize, if not completely legalize, marijuana, as I’ve been saying for almost 40 years. It’s a stupid and senseless use of law-enforcement resources, for one thing; for another, marijuana was in fact legal until the 1930s, and somehow for all that time society as we know it didn’t end.
Then Hawaii’s gun grabbing state government could do the appropriate thing and fuck right off.