One wrinkle often lost when debating the rights of medical marijuana patients is gun ownership. In part, it’s because these two issues might seem on opposite sides of the aisle. But if you trust the word of the former NRA president, that might not be as true as you think.
David Keene wrote in the Washington Times Wednesday, the federal government’s Schedule I drug classification for marijuana causes significant problems for gun owners. Though medical marijuana is legalized in 30 states, registering for a medical marijuana card prohibits that person from owning firearms.
The Schedule I classification has caused real problems for gun owners in states that have legalized its use for medical purposes because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives defines anyone with a medical marijuana prescription as an admitted drug user prohibited by definition from owning, possessing or using a firearm. In some states federal law enforcement officers have threatened to go after either gun owners with a prescription or firearms dealers or private sellers who dare to sell them guns.
Keene cited instances where those with medical marijuana cards ran into trouble. One card-carrying Nevada woman attempted to buy a firearm from a Carson City retailer back in 2011, but the ATF had recently put out notice that licensed dealers “may not transfer firearms or ammunition to” individuals with medical marijuana prescriptions.
Just last year the Honolulu police contacted every local registered gun owner with a marijuana prescription. They notified those individuals they had to “surrender their guns and ammunition to the police within 30 days.” As Keene noted, the police later rescinded that notice, but it reminded gun owners with medical marijuana prescriptions how fragile their position was.
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“Since gun purchasers must sign a form swearing they are not habitual drug users, a holder of a marijuana prescription cannot both answer the question honestly and buy a firearm today from a gun dealer anywhere in the country,” Keene wrote.
Because of this ongoing concern, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf notified residents last month that the police wouldn’t be taking away the guns of those with medical marijuana prescription. “People should not have to make that choice,” Wolf said at the time.
Keene echoed that sentiment, stating, “Trading a constitutional right for pain relief is a choice no one should have to make.”