Bye-bye, Second Amendment? The U.S. Department of Justice is notifying federally licensed firearms dealers that they aren’t allowed to sell guns or ammo to anyone who smokes pot — even medical marijuana patients.
The memo from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, dated September 21, says the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance, even in states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal uses, reports The Associated Press.
Federal law prohibits anyone who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” from possessing firearms or ammunition.
“Therefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user or or addicted to a controlled substance and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition,” the memo said.
Alcoholics and Oxycontin addicts, on the other hand, can buy all the guns they want — their drugs of choice are “legal” under federal law.
|Gary Marbut, Montana Shooting Sports Association: “More than unfortunate”|
If gun dealers have “reason to believe” someone is using controlled substances, including marijuana, they may not sell them a gun, according to the memo.
The memo says patients who use medical marijuana should answer “yes” to a question on the Firearms Transaction Record that asks: “Are you an unlawful use of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
Gun dealers must refuse to sell firearms or ammo to those answering “yes,” according to the memo.
If a gun dealer has “reasonable cause” to believe a person uses medical marijuana, the letter says the gun dealer may not sell guns or bullets to that person, even if he or she answered “no.”
A gun group on Tuesday expressed outrage over the new federal policy, reports Charles S. Johnson of the Billings Gazette.
“It is egregious that people may be sentenced to years in a federal prison only because they possessed a firearm while using a state-approved medicine,” said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association.
Marbut called it “more than unfortunate when a constitutional right — the right to bear arms that people have reserved to themselves from government interference — is arbitrarily taken away by what many see as an overbearing and over-intrusive federal government.”
Medical marijuana groups were no more enthusiastic.
|Kate Cholewa, Montana Cannabis Industry Association: “They’ve invested billions in misinformation about cannabis”|
”In fact, the policy goes so far as to say even being in possession of a medical cannabis card forfeits a citizen’s Second Amendment rights whether or not that person ever followed through and used cannabis for their condition,” said Kate Cholewa, board member of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association.
Cholewa said the federal government is rescinding patients’ gun rights after the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature tried to subject citizens there to warrantless searches with that state’s new restrictive medical marijuana law.
The federal government is “unable to fight the truth that hundreds of thousands are finding relief through medical cannabis,” Cholewa said.
“They have neither facts nor science to support their position so the federal government is using force, threats and the denial of their constitutional rights,” Cholewa said. “They’ve invested billions in misinformation about cannabis. They dont like having their message undermined by data and experience.”
“With a stroke of a pen, the Department of Justice has suspended the Second Amendment for those who use medical cannabis,” said Chris Lindsey, a lawyer specializing in medical marijuana cases.
According to Rep. Diane Sands (D-Missoula), who headed a legislative panel studying the issue last year, the letter is “further evidence that federal marijuana law trumps any Montana legislation, initiative or court action attempting to create protected medical use for marijuana.”
“The only viable action open to Montana and other states is to change the federal law,” Sands said.
According to the memo, “there are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law.”