Marijuana is now legal for medicinal use in more than 30 jurisdictions across the United States. Unfortunately, for the gun owners who participate in these legal programs, this means forfeiting the right to bear arms. It’s one of many downsides stemming from conflicting state and federal cannabis laws.
Uncle Sam is of the opinion that as long as a person chooses to disregard the government’s anti-pot policies, they should no longer have the same freedoms as everyone else when it comes to the liberties contained in the Second Amendment. But there is some hope that the plight will eventually be hashed in the courts, according to a recent report from Cannabis Wire.
A guidance letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) indicates that any person who “admits” to using cannabis must surrender the right to purchase firearms. A person really only has two options in this matter: They can just forget about owning a gun or simply lie on the federal form that asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance?”
But many are concerned that fibbing could cause them to encounter the wrath of federal law enforcement, which is something that most people would rather avoid. As it stands, nobody has been busted for lying, but it could happen. And so far ATF officials have not clarified their intentions on this subject.
There is a federal lawsuit happening right now that could help sort out the situation. It is one involving a Pennsylvania medical marijuana patient by the name of Matthew Roman, who claims his Second Amendment rights were violated as soon as he was refused a gun based on his admission of participating in the state’s medical marijuana program. The outcome of this case is being monitored closely by cannabis advocates nationwide, as more conservative states are moving toward legalization. Gun ownership is up across the board, so it stands to reason that this issue is becoming more problematic.
Legal experts argue that medical marijuana patients should not have to choose between weed and guns and that it should be no different than prescription drugs.
“While you may be increasing some sort of a problem with society with recreational use, you’re clearly not with medical marijuana use,” said John Weston, a Philadelphia-based attorney handling Roman’s case. “You’re perfectly legal treating yourself with Ambien or Percocet, and even though those are far more dangerous drugs, they don’t deprive you of any constitutional rights.”
In many cases, traditional gun-totters like veterans and hunters are simply opting out of medical marijuana programs because they do not want any snags with gun ownership. This leads them treating their health conditions with prescription painkillers and anxiety medication, all of which can lead to addiction issues and overdoses. Therefore, cannabis advocates are hoping to see some clarity on this issue through the courts. Yet, it could be years before a decision is made.
Still, legal experts say that the only way to combat this debacle is for Congress to eliminate cannabis from the confines of the Controlled Substances Act. Once it is legal at the federal level, guns and weed will go hand in hand.