Gun Ban For Marijuana Users Is Unconstitutional, U.S. Judge Rules

The ban on gun ownership for marijuana users in Oklahoma has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, as it violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick, on February 3, declared that an indictment against a man charged in August for violating a firearms ban was dismissed as it violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Jared Michael Harrison was taken into custody by Lawton police, Oklahoma, in May 2022 during a routine traffic stop. The search of his car uncovered a loaded revolver and marijuana. Harrison informed the officers that he was heading to his job at a medical marijuana dispensary but lacked the mandatory state-issued medical marijuana card.

Harrison’s lawyers argued that their client’s Second Amendment right to bear arms was violated by a federal law prohibiting “unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances” from possessing firearms.

They claimed the law, focused on drug users or addicts, was inconsistent with the historical tradition of firearms regulation, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen case, which set new standards for interpreting the Second Amendment.

In contrast, federal prosecutors argued that the law, focused on disarming drug users, is consistent with the longstanding tradition in America of disarming “presumptively risky persons” such as felons, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated.

However, Judge Wyrick, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, sided with Harrison’s lawyers and ruled that the prosecution’s argument of Harrison’s status as a marijuana user was a basis for stripping him of his right to possess a firearm under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was unconstitutional.

“For all the reasons given above, this is not a constitutionally permissible means of disarming Harrison,” Judge Wyrick ruled.

Furthermore, the ruling stated that marijuana doesn’t have the characteristics typically associated with activities that have been subject to firearms regulation in the country’s history and tradition, noting that Oklahoma is one of the several states where, although marijuana is still illegal under federal law, can be legally bought for medical uses.

Several news media outlets reported that the U.S. Department of Justice is likely to appeal.

The right for medical marijuana users to bear firearms is controversial.

Although the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits individuals who are “unlawful users of or addicted to any controlled substance” from owning or possessing firearms.

As marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug under federal law, any medical or recreational user is prohibited from owning or possessing a gun.

In 2011, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent a letter to licensed firearms dealers stating that medical marijuana cardholders can’t purchase firearms.

Furthermore, the ATF added a question to a form that gun purchasers must complete, asking if the applicant is “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana.”

If a medical marijuana user answers “yes” to the question, their license will not be approved, and if they answer “no,” they could face charges of lying under oath.

The form includes a warning that using or possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law, regardless of whether the state legalizes it for medical or recreational purposes.

The ban on owning firearms for medical cannabis patients represents a significant problem for them.

The existing legal restrictions threaten the constitutional rights and well-being of about 5.4 million medical cannabis patients across the country, according to several experts.

The current situation forces them to decide between using their prescribed medication or preserving their right to bear arms, as stated in the Second Amendment.

As well as medical patients, individuals who have had their marijuana records expunged may still face restrictions on their right to bear firearms, as the issue is dealt with state-by-state. Some states may allow individuals with expunged marijuana records to possess firearms, while others may still consider them unqualifiable to own firearms and restrict their rights.

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