The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that people with a medical cannabis card cannot purchase a gun. The Court ruled that this does not violate a person’s Second Amendment rights because of the federal rule that bans the sale of firearms to illegal drug users. By federal standards, marijuana is an illegal drug and anyone who has a medical cannabis card should be presumed to be a marijuana user and therefore banned from owning a firearm. The Court stated that being a marijuana user “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
The Case of S. Rowan Wilson
The ruling comes as part of a legal case filed by Nevada resident S. Rowan Wilson who tried to buy a gun for self-defense and was refused sale by the shop. The store referred to the federal rule, issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, banning the sale of firearms to illegal drug users. She claims that she got a medical cannabis card as an act of support for marijuana legalization but didn’t actually use it. Part of her case was challenging the idea that gun sellers shouldn’t assume that people with a card used the plant. The Court disagreed, believing it to be a reasonable assumption.
A Lack of Consistency in the Second Amendment
Wilson’s lawyer, Chaz Rainey, has already expressed that he will continue to challenge the decision and may even take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. “We live in a world where having a medical marijuana card is enough to say you don’t get a gun, but if you’re on the no fly list your constitutional right is still protected,” Rainey said regarding the situation. He expressed frustration with the lack of consistency in how the Second Amendment is applied.
A Medical Cannabis Card Does Not Indicate Unpredictability
The deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Paul Armentaro, says that the idea that marijuana users could be violent is a complete fallacy. He said “Responsible adults who use cannabis in a manner that is compliant with the laws of their states ought to receive the same legal rights and protections as other citizens.” The plant is well known to reduce anxiety, stress and panic, as well as relax, calm and sedate users. There has never been any evidence to indicate that marijuana users are violent in any way. In fact alcohol is much more likely to incite a violent incident and cause the “irrational or unpredictable behavior” the federal government may be concerned about.
As long as marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, a number of problems are certain to continue. Having said that, Alex Kreit, who is a marijuana law expert at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego seems to believe that the court left open the possibility for marijuana card holders to revisit the issue. Marijuana users may still have the option to file to not be thrown together with other drug users, in particular on the issue of violence. The matter may not be resolved yet.