Why Biden is to Blame for Permit Denials on Big Island of Hawaii

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

President Joe Biden isn't a fan of concealed carry, but there's not a lot he can do about it at the moment. He's made life difficult for gun owners in every way he could, but there's another group of people Biden tends to want to court: Marijuana proponents.

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To be fair, I don't care what you do to your own body. Wreck it with every chemical known to man as far as I'm concerned, just don't turn to me to help you deal with the ramifications of your actions.

But marijuana is legal in a number of states. One of those is Hawaii.

Yet a recent look at gun permit denials on the Big Island revealed that the medical marijuana law was at least in part responsible.

A recent Hawaiʻi attorney general report on firearm registrations contained some puzzling numbers.

According to the report, the number of gun permit rejections in 2023 hovered at 1% or lower in Maui, Kauaʻi and Honolulu counties. But in Hawaiʻi County, 6.9% were denied.

To put it another way, Honolulu rejected 142 of the nearly 13,700 applications, while Big Island police denied 332 of just over 4,800 applications.

The Conversation spoke with Hawaiʻi County Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz, who was also surprised by the report. The former Honolulu Police Department major was sworn in as Big Island's police chief in January 2023.

"I got this report the same day that it was released out to the general public, and I immediately had kind of some of those same questions, like why are we denying so much more than the other counties? So in this particular set of circumstances, most of our application denials center around medical marijuana applicants," he said.

Of the 332 denials in Hawaiʻi County, 191 were due primarily to medical marijuana — that's 57.5%. Moszkowicz said those people have or used to have medical marijuana permits.

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That's a legitimate reason under current law, even if I disagree with it completely, and honestly, every one of those is the fault of President Joe Biden.

How do I figure?

It's simple. Part of the issue is that while Hawaii has legalized medical marijuana, federal law still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning there's no lawful medical use. Gun laws prohibit gun ownership to anyone who uses a Schedule 1 drug, in part because there's no legitimate medical use in the eyes of the law.

Who determines what schedule a drug is on? The Drug Enforcement Agency.

The DEA decides and the process for changing schedules can be instituted by a number of bodies, one of which is the DEA itself.

All it would take is for Biden to order the DEA to reschedule marijuana and everything changes. So why did Biden wait until just a few months before Election Day to announce his plan to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III, which will allow it to be treated like other prescription medicines? 

Biden could have done this at any point over the past four years, but he waited until now because he's hoping it gives him a boost with younger voters who might stay home or vote for Trump. 

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So yeah, every single one of those rejections in Hawaii is because President Joe Biden is playing politics with marijuana, knowing full well that the current policy has forced some gun owners to pick between their Second Amendment rights and their health. 

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