The April 6 arrest of Honolulu Police Department veteran Michael Steven Chu has shined a spotlight on the use of medical marijuana by law enforcement officers.
According to a criminal complaint, Chu holds a medical marijuana card in the state of Hawaii.
"It's a public policy issue for sure," said state Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "I think the public has a right to know that."
But, according to officials at the Honolulu Police Department, HPD has no official policy regarding the disclosure of medical marijuana cards issued to its officers.
Under a state law enacted in late 2000, the Police Department is forced to treat medical marijuana like any other prescription drug. The legislation allows card holders to possess three mature marijuana plants, four immature plants and three ounces of usable marijuana.
However, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha said illegal marijuana use by any officer is grounds for dismissal.
"The use or possession of marijuana by a police officer is not condoned by the department and is clearly prohibited by law and departmental policy," said Kealoha. "The HPD remains opposed to all efforts to legalize marijuana."
HPD policy calls for officers of all ranks to be drug tested up to four times per year. It's not known if Chu ever failed a urinalysis during his 13 years on the force.
The union that represents police officers in all four Hawaii counties told KITV4 there's no way to know for sure how many officers have obtained medical marijuana cards.
"There's really no way, unless the officers voluntarily come up and disclose that," said Tenari Maafala, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers. "If they do have a medicinal card, they should disclose that early on."