Monday, October 03, 2011

Gun ownership by patients who use medical marijuana

A provision of the 1968 Gun Control Act prohibits drug addicts from possessing or receiving a firearm (18 U.S.C. 922 (g)(3)). Given the connection between serious drug addiction and criminal behavior such a provision is not unreasonable. Typically however, Congress went a little farther, applying the prohibition to any person "who is an unlawful user. . . of a controlled substance."

Of course, if you have a bona fide prescription for a controlled substance for a medical condition you are not "an unlawful user," and thus it is not a crime to possess or receive a firearm. So even if you use powerful narcotics legally, that does not affect your right to possess a firearm.

As of this time, sixteen states (and the District of Columbia) have enacted laws recognizing the medical use of marijuana.(The laws in D.C. and New Jersey are not yet operative.)

As a result of these state laws, there are hundreds of thousands of persons nationwide whose doctors have recommended to them that they use marijuana for medical purposes.

But Federal law still does not, and Federal health officials still do not, recognize the medical use of marijuana (except by four persons who receive marijuana from the federal government under the compassionate use program).

Should being a lawful patient using marijuana under State law require that one give up one's Constitutional right under the Second Amendment to possess a firearm for self-defense? As matter of logic, of course not. Under state law, you are a lawful user of marijuana under a doctor's supervision. You are not a drug addict. But according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) of the U.S. Department of Justice, the answer, sadly, is yes!

On September 21, 2011, ATF advised Federal Firearms Licensees by open letter that they must not sell firearms to any person who identifies himself or herself as a medical user of marijuana. John Adams of USA TODAY reported on this letter on September 29, 2011. MPP's Morgan Fox reported in March that the Supreme Court of Oregon came to the opposite conclusion! But the Supreme Court of Oregon's judgment does not apply to other states.

Once again obtuse Federal health and drug officials, now acting through ATF bureaucrats, are jeopardizing the liberties of Americans by setting aside their right to self defense, clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Heller case in June 2008.

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