U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Russ Belville of “The Marijuana Agenda” podcast made a disturbing discovery to might violate not only the second amendment, but it might also violate the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996″ (HIPAA).
The Honolulu Police Department has started sending out letters in mid-November to patients that are being treated by doctors with medical marijuana. These letters informed them that they have 30 days to turn in or transfer their firearms and ammunition or be in violation of the law.
Medical Marijuana is legal in Hawaii.
According to state law, the database that police used to compile the list of patients who were prescribed marijuana was put into place so that police could verify if a person who was in possession of marijuana had a medical need for the drug. It was never attended for the database to be used by police to identify medical marijuana users proactively. It is unclear if the police violated Hawaiian law by using the database to send the letters asking for the surrender of the patient’s guns.
It is also unclear if this unattended use of the database violates federal HIPAA laws. HIPAA is supposed to protect our medical records from unlawful inquiries, yet the Honolulu Police Department used those files to get the names and address of people that are not guilty of any crime.
According to HIPAA, the only time law enforcement can access medical records is by a court order or if there is an immediate threat to public safety. It is unclear of the HPD’s justification for using this database.
The HPD is sighting federal law that prohibits firearm possession for unlawful users of controlled substances. According to the federal government, marijuana is a controlled substance, but it does have medical uses and is legal in Hawaii. For gun rights advocates this seems more of a gun grab by an anti-gun government than the Honolulu Police Department enforcing federal laws. Privacy rights advocates share this opinion along with most medical marijuana advocates.
The letter also states for the patients to get their guns and gun rights back that they would have to get a doctor to submit a letter to the HPD saying that their patient is no longer using marijuana. This requirement caused a public outcry against the HPD abuse of the medical marijuana database.
After researching the database, it seems like the local government sold the public on the idea that the database was only going to be used to keep illicit drug use and drug trafficking out of the communities by allowing police to quickly identify those that had a legal right to use marijuana for medical purposes.
I called the number, which according to the letter, belongs to Officers D. Cruz of the HPD, who is supposed to help facilitate the gun confiscation, to get a comment on the actions of the HPD. The call went to voicemail and then disconnected without an option to leave a message. I then tried the main police number to get a comment. They referred me to their media relations department. At the time of publication, my calls to the media relations department of the HPD were not returned.
After backlash from Privacy rights advocates, gun advocates, and potential HIPAA violations the HPD has suspended the practice of trying to seize guns from citizens that are being treated by a doctor with medical marijuana pending a review of the department’s policy.
It is unclear if the HPD will resume this practice, but if they decide to continue the system of trying to seize guns, it is likely they will face multiple legal hurdles.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.