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Medical Marijuana Users Cannot Legally Buy Guns

By Roger Malespin  photo/istock/sangriana

There are a number of ridiculous laws in place surrounding cannabis and have been for a long time. Despite the many, many gains the legalization movement has had in recent years, there are still plenty of unfair and unreasonable laws in place because of the federal stance on cannabis. Unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable of the cannabis community are often on the receiving end of this. Medical marijuana users, who number in the millions in the United States, are still banned from owning guns in the eyes of the ATF because of the federal schedule 1 drug classification.  

Whenever one wants to buy a firearm in the United States, they have to fill out a questionnaire which asks things such as have you ever been convicted of a felony, been committed to a mental health institution, and are you an unlawful user of marijuana. Of course, a yes to any of these very likely disqualifies you from owning a gun, but it’s obvious that this law needs to be amended, especially considering that alcohol is perfectly legal to have even while operating a firearm. 

Naturally, many medical marijuana users in states across the nation have expressed confusion and frustration with this discrepancy. There have been so many questions and complaints that the ATF decided to add some bold print to the questionnaire in 2016 reminding potential buyers that federal law supersedes state law, and that cannabis is still illegal in any form as far as the federal government is concerned. 

Maggie Kinsella, with the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, said the group doesn't have a position on limitation, but she personally sees it as unfair.
"There's no restriction on alcohol consumption and gun rights, so this is just one more thing they're trying to do to blockade cannabis consumers and put them into a lower class of citizenship," she said. "It's not right." 

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the federal law passes muster with the Constitution, as "it is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior."

Regardless of one’s position on gun control as a political topic, there are many legitimate reasons for citizens to own a firearm that are not connected to crime. The studies cited for linking drug use and crime do not include cannabis alone, rather cannabis and a host of other drugs including alcohol and cocaine. The circuit court ruled that the causation vs correlation argument does not matter, and that a simple link between drug use and violence, regardless of which way the causality runs, is grounds enough to rule as they have.

The ultimate goal of the legalization movement is to have cannabis removed from the federal schedule drug list to allow medical patients and law abiding citizens the freedom to take it as desired. The medical marijuana recipients who are denied rights because of something they cannot control should be considered people with medical needs before gun owners. They are another item on a long list of collateral damage the citizens of this country have endured because of the federal cannabis laws.