Law-abiding citizens should not be forced to choose between access to medicine and access to firearms. But as states legalize medical marijuana while it remains a Schedule I substance under federal law, that’s exactly what’s happening, The Washington Examiner reports.
After the midterm elections, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to legally use medical marijuana.
Already, research has shown that marijuana has a variety of medical uses, including increasing appetites, reducing nausea, decreasing pain and inflammation, and helping with muscle control problems, seizures, and epilepsy.
That’s great, but federal law leaves gun owners who’d benefit from medical marijuana in a pinch, forced to choose between the medicine or the guns.
Under federal law, a person who is “addicted to or an unlawful user of” a controlled substance is prohibited from owning a firearm and considered a prohibited person when it comes to “possessing firearms or ammunition.”
In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives addressed this question in an open letter, affirming federal law as it stands, making clear that regardless of state law, using marijuana and owning guns would be a no-go.
Officials also noted that just having a medical marijuana card could be considered “reasonable cause to believe” the individual of using marijuana unlawfully — even if the card complies with all state laws.
If those cardholders own a firearm, that opens them up to be charged with a 10-year felony under federal law.
The conditions laid out in that letter were reaffirmed by the bureau in summer 2018.
Although the Department of Justice under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance to prosecutors instructing them to not to go after marijuana crimes where there were no violations of state law, there has been little evidence of increased prosecution.
Regardless of whether the federal government has pursued prosecution or not, using marijuana if you own a gun remains a serious federal offense. That leaves would-be gun owners and medical marijuana users waiting on Washington to change federal laws so they are not shortchanged of their rights.