Medical Marijuana Users Now Banned from Buying or Owning Firearms

Earlier this week the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that medical marijuana card holders do not have a 2nd amendment right to buy or own a firearm. The ruling applies to the nine Western states that fall under the court’s jurisdiction, including California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska.

How the Anti-Gun Ruling came about:

In 2011, The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent out a letter to all federally licensed gun sellers that prohibited “any person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substances from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition.” Because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, the ATF claimed medical marijuana patients in legal states were not exempted from the rule.

Shortly after that letter went out, S. Rowan Wilson attempted to purchase a gun for self-defense in Nevada – a state where medical marijuana is legal. According to Wilson, the sale was denied on the basis that she possessed a medical marijuana card. Wilson filed a lawsuit challenging the regulation issued by the ATF, which maintains that gun sellers should assume that medical marijuana cardholders use the federally illegal substance.

Wilson said she doesn’t even use marijuana and only obtained the card as an expression of support for marijuana legalization. She argued that not only was her second amendment right being wrongfully taken from her but her 5th amendment right to due process was being ignored as well.

On Wednesday, in a 3-0 decision, the 9th Circuit agreed that Congress had reasonably concluded that marijuana and other drug use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.” The court’s ruling applied to nine Western states within the appeals court’s jurisdiction, including six that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes: California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska.

“The panel held that plaintiff’s Second Amendment claims did not fall within the direct scope of United States v. Dugan, which held that the Second Amendment does not protect the rights of unlawful drug users to bear arms,” said the court’s ruling summary.

“… Applying intermediate scrutiny, the panel nevertheless held that the fit between the challenged provisions and the Government’s substantial interest of violence prevention was reasonable, and therefore the district court did not err by dismissing the Second Amendment claim. The panel rejected plaintiff’s claims that the challenged laws and Open Letter (issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to federal firearms licensees, which prevented plaintiff from purchasing a firearm) violated the First Amendment.”

Chaz Rainey, the attorney representing Wilson, said there needs to be more consistency in the application of the Second Amendment.

Rainey plans to appeal the decision saying,  “We live in a world where having a medical marijuana card is enough to say you don’t get a gun, but if you’re on the no-fly list your constitutional right is still protected.” … “We are going to litigate this, exhaust whatever remedies we have,” Rainey said. “When this (ATF) letter was issued, it was issued as part of a deliberate attempt by the (U.S. Department of Justice) to quell a political movement.”