Honolulu police stop requiring pot patients to give up guns

HONOLULU — Honolulu’s police chief ended a requirement that medical marijuana patients relinquish their guns.

Chief Susan Ballard said Wednesday medical marijuana patients can retain guns they already own, but they can’t buy additional guns once they become a patient, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

“Merely having a medical marijuana card doesn’t mean you’re using marijuana,” Ballard said. “We can’t prove you’re using marijuana. Our practice of having them turn in their firearms was incorrect.”

The department will return firearms to the two people who voluntarily relinquished them, Ballard said.

Retired state Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, a member of the Honolulu Police Commission, questioned why the department was denying firearm permits for marijuana patients but not people using much stronger prescription drugs.

“I’m a little puzzled as to why the distinction between medical marijuana and medical opioids,” Levinson said.

While Carl Bergquist, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the police department should revisit the policy since medical cannabis is legal under state law.

“On behalf of physicians, nurses, caregivers and patients involved in the medical cannabis program, the assumption that they’re all impaired or a danger to society is a great insult,” Bergquist said. “A policy like this could push people out of the regulated system. We think these patients should not be stigmatized in this fashion.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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