The first cannabis bill filed in the new Congress concerns the controversial issue of medical marijuana patients and their gun rights, or medical marijuana and second amendment conflicts.
The bill (HR 363), introduced Friday by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), seeks “to amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to the sale, purchase, shipment, receipt, or possession of a firearm or ammunition by a user of medical marijuana, and for other purposes.”
The measure concerning gun rights is co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), an Afghan War veteran and a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus who is known for advocating for veteran’s access to medical marijuana. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) is also a co-sponsor, reported Marijuana Moment.
As yet, the text of the cannabis bill is not available although from its short description, it seems clear that the proposal will address the following problem: the conflict between state and federal law and onerous federal policy requiring medical marijuana (MMJ) cardholders to choose between their state-sanctioned right to MMJ and their constitutional Second Amendment right.
A standard form that must be filled before most firearm purchases contains the following question and warning: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
MMJ patients face felony charges if they lie about their marijuana use on a federal firearm application.
Previous Efforts: Enter Nikki Fried
This is not the first time politicians have tackled this thorny problem. Last year, Florida’s agriculture and consumer services commissioner Nikki Fried took the issue to court and sued the federal government for not allowing MMJ patients to buy and own firearms.
“No patient should have to choose between medicine and employment, a roof over their head, access to capital or their Constitutional rights,” Fried said adding that the country’s marijuana policies are “irrational, inconsistent, and incoherent.”
In July, Fried’s lawyers and other plaintiffs argued that under the recent SCOTUS ruling, current federal policy banning those who admit to using MMJ in a background check cannot be enforced.
In August, the DOJ ordered a federal court to dismiss Fried’s lawsuit, arguing it would be too “dangerous to trust regular marijuana users to exercise sound judgment.”
Fried said she was disappointed that the DOJ decided to “double down on harmful prohibition policies. DOJ’s argument is as offensive as it is inaccurate.
“I will never stop looking for outside-the-box ways we can further this fight until we achieve full and equitable legalization,” Fried said at the time.
Then, in November, a Federal Court dismissed the lawsuit. US District Judge Allen Winsor ruled that “Florida’s medical marijuana users are ‘unlawful user[s] of . . . [a] controlled substance,’ so this law makes it a crime for them to possess firearms.”