The Department of Justice (DOJ) is requesting a favorable result in related litigation and has alerted a federal court that it thinks a different court’s decision in a case involving cannabis and gun rights was made erroneously. The federal government wrote a one-page letter to the judges presiding over the Eleventh Circuit contesting a recent ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court, where it was concluded that the law forbidding individuals who consume cannabis from purchasing or owning firearms violates the Constitution.
The DOJ is vigorously appealing this judgment because it is relevant to litigation pending before the Eleventh Circuit. Although the focus of that lawsuit, which was originally brought by Nikki Fried, the former Agriculture Commissioner for Florida, is more restricted to patients registered with the state for medical cannabis to possess firearms, the case’s fundamental elements remain similar.
With the Florida-based lawsuit scheduled to engage in oral arguments next month, the DOJ has expressed concern that the recent ruling from the Fifth Circuit diverges from numerous other judicial decisions, both at the circuit and district court levels. Various courts have already heard cases challenging firearms prohibition at the federal level concerning marijuana consumers. While the ruling from the influential Fifth Circuit stands out, two separate district courts have reached the same conclusion.
The central argument revolves around a key precedent set by a recent Supreme Court decision that emphasized that any regulations on firearms must align with the historical setting established during the Second Amendment’s ratification in 1791. In its recent ruling, the Fifth Circuit dismissed the government’s position that gun restrictions placed on dangerous, mentally ill and actively intoxicated people in the 18th and 19th centuries complied with the strict standards established by Supreme Court precedent, noting that the government’s justification for the ban lacked a strong historical precedent.
At present, the decision made by the Fifth Circuit makes the ban invalid in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Conversely, the Eleventh Circuit holds jurisdiction over Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Should the Eleventh Circuit ultimately affirm the ban’s constitutionality, it could potentially lead to Supreme Court intervention due to conflicting decisions among various circuit courts.
In an interesting twist, legal representatives for Hunter Biden, who has been accused of purchasing a gun in 2018 while disclosing that he was a crack cocaine user, have previously invoked a ruling from the Western District Court of Oklahoma. Biden is the son of President Joe Biden. Hunter’s legal team argues that the ruling, which found the ban on firearms for cannabis consumers to be unconstitutional, has similar bearings to their client’s case. The DOJ is currently appealing the district court’s decision to the Tenth Circuit Court.
Additionally, a judge in the Western District Court of Texas declared that laws that forbid the transfer and sale of firearms to marijuana users are unconstitutional.
Despite these recent legal developments, ATF remains steadfast in its stance that the prohibition of marijuana-related gun ownership is enforceable and unambiguous, even in places where marijuana use is allowed.
While the courts determine whether or not state-legal marijuana users can legally possess firearms, the formulations being developed can help patients steer clear of these controversies by taking the FDA-approved, cannabis-derived drugs.
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