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Cops told medical pot users to turn in their guns. Here's why they changed their minds

White House: Administration plans to take action on recreational marijuana

White Press Secretary Sean Spicer addresses questions about the administrations stance on medical and recreational marijuana during Thursdays press briefing.
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White Press Secretary Sean Spicer addresses questions about the administrations stance on medical and recreational marijuana during Thursdays press briefing.

The Honolulu Police Department has been sending letters out to medical marijuana users this year to tell them that they “have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms.”

That includes a letter dated Nov. 13, signed by police chief Susan Ballard.

“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” the letter read, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Now, that policy is no more, Ballard said in a news release on Tuesday.

Instead, the police chief said her department wants to look over court rulings and talk with others in government to determine the best next steps, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.

“This is a new area of concern for cities across the country, and we in Honolulu want to develop a policy that’s legally sound and serves our community,” Ballard said Tuesday, as reported by the Associated Press. “Formulating the policy will take time, but we want to do it right.”

According to the Civil Beat, 30 medical pot users received letters this year from the city telling them to turn in their guns, while the city of Honolulu denied gun permits for 67 users of medical pot from 2013 to 2016.

In 2011, the ATF wrote an “open letter to all federal firearms licensees” that said “any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana … is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

Hawaii requires all medical marijuana users to register in a state-run patient registry — and is the first state to make gun owners register all their weapons with the county police chief, according to Guns.com.

Michelle Yu, a spokeswoman for the HPD, told the Civil Beat that the list of registered medical marijuana users in Hawaii has been open to police since 2016, while a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health said police could see that list since 2000.

And Hawaii isn’t the only state where the intersection of gun ownership and medical marijuana use has become an issue.

In Pennsylvania, state police told Lehigh Valley Live that using medical marijuana automatically disqualifies someone in the background check process from buying a gun.

That lines up with a 2016 ruling from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that said it isn’t an infringement of someone’s Second Amendment rights to ban them from buying a gun if they use weed.

“It is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior,” the court said.

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