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April 4, 2011

"Medical marijuana users fight for gun rights"

The title of this post is the headline of this AP article, which warms my libertarian heart. (Hat tip: How Appealing.)  Here are parts of the report:

Cynthia Willis calls up and down the firing range to be sure everyone knows she is shooting, squares up in a two-handed stance with her Walther P-22 automatic pistol and fires off a clip in rapid succession. Willis is not only packing a concealed handgun permit in her wallet, she also has a medical marijuana card. That combination has led the local sheriff to try to take her gun permit away.

She is part of what is considered the first major court case in the country to consider whether guns and marijuana can legally mix. The sheriffs of Washington and Jackson counties say no. But Willis and three co-plaintiffs have won in state court twice, with the state's rights to regulate concealed weapons trumping federal gun control law in each decision.

With briefs filed and arguments made, they are now waiting for the Oregon Supreme Court to rule. When it's over, the diminutive 54-year-old plans to still be eating marijuana cookies to deal with her arthritis pain and muscle spasms, and carrying her pistol. "Under the medical marijuana law, I am supposed to be treated as any other citizen in this state," she said. "If people don't stand up for their little rights, all their big rights will be gone."...

Oregon sheriffs are not happy about the state's medical marijuana law. "The whole medical marijuana issue is a concern to sheriffs across the country who are involved in it mainly because there is so much potential for abuse or for misuse and as a cover for organized criminal activity," said Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon, who became part of the Willis case because his office turned down three medical marijuana patients in the Portland suburbs for concealed handgun permits. "You can't argue that people aren't misusing that statute in Oregon. Not everybody, of course. Some have real medical reasons. But ...the larger group happens be people who are very clearly abusing it."

The sheriffs argue that the 1968 U.S. Gun Control Act prohibits selling firearms to drug addicts, and they say that includes medical marijuana card holders. Their briefs state that they cannot give a permit to carry a gun to someone prohibited from buying or owning a gun. But the cardholders have won so far arguing this is one situation where federal law does not trump state law, because the concealed handgun license just gives a person a legal defense if they are arrested, not a right.

Oregon's attorney general has sided with the marijuana cardholders, arguing that the concealed handgun license cannot be used to buy a gun, so sheriffs who issue one to a marijuana card holder are not in violation of the federal law....

Sixteen states now have medical marijuana laws, according to NORML, an advocacy group. There is no way to determine how many medical marijuana cardholders also have gun permits. Patient lists are confidential, and an Oregon court ruled the sheriffs can't look at them.

NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre said Oregon courts have not been entirely medical marijuana friendly. While they have upheld the right to pack a pistol, they have also ruled that employers can fire people who use medical marijuana. "A person who uses medical cannabis should not have to give up their fundamental rights as enumerated by the Constitution,"' St. Pierre said. Gordon said he expects the gun issue to come up in other states with medical marijuana laws.

April 4, 2011 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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Hmmm...how about the fact that multiple studies have shown that, while habit forming, marijuana is not addicting. If the law says "drug adict", citizens should be able to counter that they are users, not adicts.

Posted by: Ala JD | Apr 4, 2011 3:46:20 PM

I could well see that the state has simply moved this issue beyond the ability of sheriffs to enforce. Of course I'm not sure then that a sheriff who came into knowledge of concurrent possession of both drugs and firearms couldn't tell the feds. As i understand it the feds have read the applicable laws as encompassing pretty much any illicit use with firearms possession without an actual need to prove addiction or other problem behavior. The state would still be free though to forbid sheriffs from passing on any such information that they encounter in their official capacity.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 4, 2011 4:36:35 PM

If I understand the argument, the Sheriffs assume that all medical marijuana uses are drug addicts. Regardless of whether one can be addicted to marijuana (which is the subject of Ala JD's comment), the reasoning does not follow. Merely taking a prescribed medicine does not mean one is addicted to that medicine. IMHO, the state law enforcement is wrong here.

The more interesting issue, as Soronel alludes to, is whether federal authorities could prosecute under 922(g)(3) a medical marijuana user who possesses a firearm. Is that person an "unlawful user" of marijuana, as required by 922? They aren't under state law, but what about federal law? The Sixth Circuit has held that to prove a violation of 922(g)(3), the government must establish that the defendant “was engaged in a pattern of regular and repeated use of a controlled substance during a period that reasonably covers the time a firearm was possessed.” US v. Burchard, 580 F.3d at 352 (2009). That would seem to cover medical marijuana users.

Posted by: anon | Apr 4, 2011 5:36:49 PM

anon --

"The Sixth Circuit has held that to prove a violation of 922(g)(3), the government must establish that the defendant 'was engaged in a pattern of regular and repeated use of a controlled substance during a period that reasonably covers the time a firearm was possessed.' US v. Burchard, 580 F.3d at 352 (2009). That would seem to cover medical marijuana users."

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 4, 2011 11:38:02 PM

Thank you for sharing,it is very helpful and I really like it!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:03:22 AM

A gun permit violates 2nd ammendment as the right to bear arms is a right not to be granted permission by those who took the oath!

Posted by: us slave | Feb 7, 2012 5:27:14 PM

Now we all know that there are millions of people in this country who get pharmaceutical prescription medication, which, may i add, is much more mind altering than medical marijuana. Ex. Xanax,and whatever other prescription drug you want to add. Yet, millions of people in this country who regularly take pharmaceutical prescription medication, also own firearms Legally. How come people who get pharmaceutical prescription medication, which can be more mind altering than marijuana, also get the right to own firearms, Yet, I as a medical marijuana patient, am denied my constitutional 2nd amendment right, courtesy of BATFE. I believe BATFE and the elite are purposely stripping people of their 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms, because they want to control a group of people, the medical marijuana card holders. Meanwhile people can take pharmaceutical drugs that are way more mind altering and They are free to own and buy a gun. I have a prosthetic leg and scoliosis: the only reasons im a medical marijuana card holder. I have Absolutely NO mental deficiencies yet BATFE tells me i cant own a firearm? Meanwhile people who take Xanax, and other very mind altering medication, can just walk out buy a firearm as they please but BATFE wants to hang all medical marijuana patients' heads in a noose and deny them their Constitutional 2nd amendment rights? Justice is dead in this country. Justice probably died a long time ago.

Posted by: WhereisFreedom&Justice | Jan 18, 2013 7:17:40 AM

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