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Appeals Court Ruling On Medical Marijuana Patients and Guns


The Breakdown:


Major news for 2nd Amendment loving medical marijuana cardholders in a rising number of states that have legalized medical marijuana patient programs... The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has just recently upheld the constitutional lawfulness of a 2011 order from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) that medical marijuana patients cannot buy guns. 


Here is a PDF of the letter, for those who are not familiar with the ATF's "OPEN LETTER TO ALL FEDERAL FIREARMS LICENSEES


The Reasoning:


This ruling was made and upheld based on the following chain of reasoning:

  • Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law. 

  • According to the DEA's website, this means that marijuana is in a category with "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

  • Other listed examples of Schedule 1 substances include heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. 

  • Since marijuana under federal law is a drug...the court assumes that medical marijuana users are therefore drug users.

  • Under federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), it is basically illegal for anyone who uses or is addicted to a controlled substance as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. 

  • As mentioned before, marijuana is federally listed as a Schedule 1 substance with the worst and most addictive of drugs (they missed alcohol!). 

  • As stated in the ATF's letter from 2011, "Therefore, any person who uses of is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."

  • This puts medical marijuana cardholders in the same category of people unprotected by the 2nd Amendment including convicted violent felons and the mentally ill. 

  • To further bolster their decision, the Court cited unpredictable behavior as being a result of marijuana use. (Completely unlike the unpredictable behavior of alcohol of course!)

The Takeaways:


In our opinion marijuana doesn't usually cause violence, most especially relative to other substances. Often times marijuana has even been referred to as "peace by the gram."


Regardless, this decision is pretty huge, and it may require a rescheduling of marijuana or of course full-blown federal legalization of marijuana for this to change. This court case stemmed from a Nevada case where a woman in Nevada was denied the right to purchase a gun based solely on the fact that she was a medical marijuana patient cardholder, and an appeal to this recent decision is likely. No matter what, this decision has a lot of medical marijuana patients across the country pretty mad.


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