Medical Marijuana

Vets Who Use Medical Marijuana Shouldn't Have to Give Up Second Amendment Rights

"I think it’s ridiculous I would have to trade one of my rights," said veteran Joshua Raines.

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Despite many states legalizing medical marijuana, the fact that it remains illegal under federal law has forced some U.S. military veterans into a difficult choice. Using the drug to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could cost them their their constitutional right to bear arms.

The problem results from a question that gun buyers must answer when going through a federal background check: "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?"

Underneath this question on the federal "Firearms Transaction Record" form, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) warns in bold type:

The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.

Joshua Raines, a 31-year-old veteran in Texas who suffers from PTSD, told the Dallas Morning News that he's put off getting a medical marijuana prescription in order to avoid running afoul of this rule.

"I fought for the right to bear arms. It's literally in our Constitution for me to be able to own a gun…I think it's ridiculous I would have to trade one of my rights," Raines said.

Not that Raines avoids marijuana entirely. The drug has helped reduce his seizures from "30 or 40 per month to two or three," so he still purchases it on the black market.

Raines' situation highlights the predicament many veterans are put in by this backwards federal policy—enforcement of which may vary from state to state and city to city.

In 2017, the chief of police in Honolulu, Hawaii, sent a letter to all residents who owned guns and were registered for medical marijuana cards, telling them to turn in their guns. "Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition," it said.

The letter cited a state statute that reads: "No person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition therefor."

However, after much public outcry, Honolulu police backed down—somewhat. While the program put on halt forcing people to turn in their existing guns, city police still refused to grant new firearms permits to people who are registered medical marijuana card holders.

Similar issues have cropped up in other states with legal medical marijuana, including Florida, Missouri, and Maryland.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has tried to circumvent the federal law by refusing to share with federal agencies the registry of people who hold medical marijuana cards.

"Pennsylvania regulators … will no longer make a new medical marijuana registry available on the state's computer system for law enforcement, making it less likely someone's participation will be flagged during federal gun-purchase background checks," AP reported in January 2018.

A few federal lawmakers have begun to take note of the problem.

In an interview with Marijuana Moment last December, Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) complained that ATF considers "any user of marijuana" to be "an unlawful user of marijuana." Massie has also tweeted his support for removing the marijuana question from the ATF form altogether.

Massie is not alone in Congress in wanting to fix this law. In April of this year, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) introduced legislation that would allow medical marijuana patients to be exempted from the question when purchasing a firearm.

Bill H.R. 2071 states that, "an individual shall not be treated as an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance based on the individual using marihuana for a medical purpose in accordance with State law."

While Mooney's legislation would only cover medical marijuana users, not recreational users, it's at least a step in the right direction.

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  1. How about rather than a Bill of Rights we switch to a Menu of Rights? You get some number of points to spend on your rights and they all have different values. That way people who don’t really care about speech rights, for example, don’t have to buy them.

    1. If you want to keep your doctor, you can, but you can’t talk about it.

    2. You still have to pay for ESPN no matter what though.

      1. That’s just physics.

  2. Not that Raines avoids marijuana entirely. The drug has helped reduce his seizures from “30 or 40 per month to two or three,” so he still purchases it on the black market.

    Always give your full name when admitting you smoke marijuana illegally in a discussion about obtaining firearms.

  3. Hmm, can we ban any current or past pot users, no matter how their home state prosecutes users, from federal office–elected or appointed?

    1. I suppose, but then the only qualified candidate would be Jeff Sessions.

  4. Bill H.R. 2071 states that, “an individual shall not be treated as an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance based on the individual using marihuana for a medical purpose in accordance with State law.”

    That spelling? It’s a trap.

  5. Bitterly clinging to their outdated laws.

  6. “The problem results from a question that gun buyers must answer when going through a federal background check:”

    No, the problem results from questioning a citizen who wants to exercise his constitutionally protected natural rights.
    Does anyone posting here have a permit to exercise their first amendment rights? Anyone? Hello?

    1. I can’t say.

  7. “In 2017, the chief of police in Honolulu, Hawaii, sent a letter to all residents who owned guns and were registered for medical marijuana cards, telling them to turn in their guns. “Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” it said.”

    “Aloha” means “hello,” “goodbye,” and “don’t be paranoid, registering your guns isn’t preliminary to confiscating them.”

    1. FROM MY COLD, FREE, DEAD, NON-PIPE HOLDING HAND!!!

  8. Slobbering violent drunks are cool to own guns.

    1. Of course! Why, no danger there. Booze good, pot bad! That’s the ‘Murican way! But fuck forbid you’re a patriotic veteran that needs a little weed to soothe the pain suffered from our glorious war on terror. Then you’re Public Enemy #1 and subject to having your rights shredded and being shot. ALSO the ‘Murican way…

    2. Actually, yes, that’s true. It’s initiations of force (of any kind, for any reason) that are the problem. If the violent drunk can avoid initiating force, then they should be free to be a violent drunk.

  9. I await the Washington Post or New York Times article warning about combat veterans who, taught how to kill, can legally possess firearms while crazed on medical pot.

    Think of the children.

    1. Is Sylvester Stallone up for another Rambo sequel? Because if it had him getting out his hospital bed to chase down the thieves who took his medical MJ, I’d watch that.

      1. Ahahaha, me too. That’d be awesome. I love the Rambo movies. Hell, that’d be the best one yet!

    2. Oh, don’t you worry, it’s a’coming. It’s a’coming. And speaking of the children, the Post just did one about smartphones making kids grow fucking horns so this one’s only a matter of time…

  10. We have to legalize marijuana because prohibition doesn’t work, but we have to restrict guns because prohibition does work. Democrats are too stupid to govern.

  11. The question should be “have you been diagnosed with any mental illness that might cause you to harm yourself or others?”

    That’d weed out many drug users.

    1. There are over 370 “mental disorders” listed in the latest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) The list includes “Tobacco Addiction Disorder” among other equally mundane and ridiculous so-called “mental illnesses.”
      If the DSM is the standard by which politicians wishes to remove our rights to own guns, then I’d guess 90% of the American people could probably be classified with a mental disorder of one kind or another.
      BEWARE, BEWARE

      1. Feeling a little low today? How about atypical depression, F 32.8?

  12. “I fought for the right to bear arms. It’s literally in our Constitution for me to be able to own a gun…I think it’s ridiculous I would have to trade one of my rights,” Raines said.”

    That alone should get the sherriff’s attention, I’m sure. Cops hate it when you talk about “rights”.

    “Not that Raines avoids marijuana entirely. The drug has helped reduce his seizures from “30 or 40 per month to two or three,” so he still purchases it on the black market.”

    Good for him. Can’t get medical pot without losing your rights? Get it off the streets! That’s what I’d do. Fuck the law.

  13. Anyone who was ever in the military or the police during prohibition of any substance, and then uses that substance for any reason, should be harshly punished. I’m talking life or death kind of harsh.

  14. […] access to marijuana—both medical and recreational—expands as more states legalize it, the debate will also grow from […]

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