Guest Column: ‘Smoke two joints in the morning, lose your gun rights in the afternoon’

Lee’s note: Here’s a great guest column from Sarasota attorney Cynthia M. Clark.  Cindy is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), a specialist at relationship-based estate planning, elder law and gun trusts. She’s also a Navy veteran, as is her husband, and a huge Second Amendment supporter. (She gets guns.)

Smoke Two Joints in the Morning, Lose Your Guns in the Afternoon

By Cynthia M. Clark 

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I wrote One Toke Over the Line: Medical Marijuana Snuffs Out Gun Rights and even longer since I wrote Up In Smoke: Gun Rights Under Current Marijuana Laws. Pot is still making headlines, but now we’re starting to see actual governmental actions instead of just theories. And it’s rather terrifying.

Earlier this month, shortly after the first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Honolulu Police Department sent letters to people who were on both the state’s medical Mary Jane (MMJ) patient registry and the state’s firearms permit registry. The letters ordered the recipients to voluntarily surrender or transfer their firearms within 30 days. Yes, they cross-referenced the electronic databases and were able to pinpoint which medical marijuana patients owned guns.

The letter cited only a vague state law and didn’t explain the connection between the state law and federal law. Under federal law, medical marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance (illegal) and MMJ users are prohibited from possessing firearms. If you’re prohibited on the federal level, most states piggyback on the federal laws so you’re also prohibited under state law.

But the letter doesn’t indicate what will happen if the letter recipient fails to voluntarily surrender her guns. Hawaii requires that all transfers be reported to the chief of police so the permit database can be updated. Therefore, the police chief will know if the letter recipient doesn’t surrender or transfer her guns. Then what? Will the police come politely to her door with a search warrant? Will a S.W.A.T. team break down her door in a no-knock raid to confiscate the contraband weapons and arrest her? Or is the letter just an empty threat – all sound and fury signifying nothing? [Update: due to the backlash, the Honolulu PD backed off a bit to review the policy.]

As Floridians, we tend to sit back and watch things like this play out in liberal, anti-gun bastions such as Hawaii, and say, “Well, that’s awful for them, but that won’t happen here in Florida. We don’t have gun permits or registration.” No, right now, we don’t. But things change. Florida is becoming bluer every year as the urban areas get larger, denser, and more influential in elections. Permits and registries could be in our future.

While the current MMJ laws state that the MMJ registry is subject to HIPPA laws and will be shared with only state and local government agencies in limited circumstances, laws change. Our MMJ laws are still wet and squishy, so there’s no telling what will happen a few years down the road – especially if the balance of power shifts. And we do have one registry – concealed carry licensees. It’s entirely conceivable that, at some point, CCL applications and renewals could be cross-referenced against a new MMJ database and CCL applicants who are found in the MMJ database will not be issued a CCL.

Of course, even if our CCL and MMJ databases are cross-referenced, no one knows how many guns a CCL applicant or holder has and there’s also no way to track whether they were surrendered or transferred. So, unlike our brothers in Hawaii, at this point we probably don’t have to worry too much about S.W.A.T. coming to our doors to take our guns.

But here’s thought – what if a Democratic-controlled Florida decided to voluntarily report all MMJ patients to NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)? There’s no law forbidding a state from giving information about prohibited persons to the FBI. In fact, states are always in the anti-gun crowd’s crosshairs because they allegedly don’t provide enough information to NICS.

We can’t just sit back and ignore what’s happening in Hawaii. We’ll likely see more acts like this one as more MMJ programs ramp up. Of course, even without registration databases, marijuana use (medical or recreational) makes you just as ineligible to buy a gun as does a dishonorable discharge or a felony.

Click here to read the rest of Cindy’s column.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. I remember reading about this. Being a gum owner and an MS patient, I have all the paper work filled out for the doctor, who has to have the state qualifying doctor’s certification for Medical Marijuana Patient licens, and was slow to do it, $300 and NO insurance will cover it, GO FIGURE, but they will consider transgender hormone therapy. Anyway, when I read that article which was on Facebook a few weeks ago, I STOPPED with the submission. Marijuana is still considered a Class ONE, dangerous, drug and therefore a federal crime.
    Now, what happened to Doctor & Patient confidentiality?! Moreover, how will they quantify mental illness. Some MS patients, who by the way a lot can not run for protection from a criminal, see a psychologist, is this next.

    • John Lloyd Scharf on

      My grandfather was addicted to morphine because he had TB of the bone. He also was an alcoholic. He had overcome all of those things by the time I knew him. He would be over 120 today. Morphine is a prescribed class 2 drug. You can be a lawful user of morphine if you are not “addicted.” The question on the form is:

      Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: 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.

      That limits “addicted” as a qualifier” to controlled substances according to that language. You can be intoxicated on prescribed morphine as long as you are not “addicted.” Addicted is a medical term requiring a diagnosis. So, you could be intoxicated on morphine and buy/possess/use a .357.

      So, You can be addicted to any depressant or stimulant, like nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol. Yet, in many jurisdictions, you can be intoxicated on and addicted to alcohol, yet qualify to buy and possess a firearm.

      This is yet another case of federal laws on our civil right being limited with arbitrary and ambiguous applications of nearly unintelligible laws. How can you claim to have civil rights when it can be regulated? No right is regulated without being lost.

      This civil right of self-defense is a self-evident natural law that should preempt any and all written laws, even if it were not in the Constitution. It is specifically enumerated by the Constitution, however, just to make it clear, for both personal and public safety.

      If King George III were to have stripped citizens of this right, do you really believe it would have failed to be mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. You have to ask yourself if the founders had lost their weapons if we would be free now. You have to ask yourself if they would have revolted based on weapons of self-defense alone in the Declaration of Independence.

      They said in that document about when a government violates rights: But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

      They considered a 3% tax without their consent to be worthy of a revolution. Patrick Henry revolted when the British stole gunpowder from their community arsenal. Are we sterner citizens than them? Or less?

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