Medical-marijuana cardholders have thirty days to “voluntarily surrender”
their firearms, according to a
letter sent by the Honolulu Police Department to MMJ patients last month.
Currently, Hawaii’s state statutes include any person who is “prohibited
from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law” from firearms
ownership under state law as well, and federal law flatly prohibits marijuana
users from owning or possessing firearms, even in states where marijuana
is legal. In addition, once an owner is disqualified, the state may legally
seize firearms that are not surrendered within the allotted time.
While twenty-nine other states allow for the use of medical marijuana,
Hawaii is the first to implement a sweeping “weapons policy”
against medical-marijuana cardholders. Because the state has both a database
of registered medical-marijuana users and of firearms purchasers, it has
the informational resources it needs to determine who is both and enforce
the firearms laws accordingly.
The letter also informed MMJ patients that clearance from a medical doctor
would be required for any future firearms applications or for the return
of their firearms from Honolulu Police Department evidence. However, because
the state law adheres to federal firearms laws, it’s unclear what
such “clearance” would entail, as even a doctor’s letter
sanctioning medicinal cannabis use would not waive away a federal-law
While it’s possible that the state legislature could amend the statute
to include an exception for state-registered MMJ cardholders, such ratification
would have to undergo the lengthy legislative process before becoming
law – a fact that doesn’t provide much solace to MMJ patients
currently facing the thirty-day deadline.
Feldmann Nagel has experienced Cannabis counsel in Hawaii to provide a
free consultation as needed.
Charles Feldmann is the Managing Partner of Feldmann Nagel, LLC and advises
clients in the cannabis industry across a multitude of states and internationally.