There are an estimated 3.6 million registered medical cannabis patients in the United States with slightly more than 700,000 residing in the state of Florida. But, despite the fact that dozens of states have legalized medical marijuana and launched legal markets, the drug is still illegal at the federal level.
This often leads to situations where businesses and customers abiding by state law are penalized by the federal government, which still considers cannabis to be illegal. One major example is the fact that cannabis businesses cannot access banking and financial services despite paying billions of dollars in taxes.
On the other end of the spectrum, recreational and medical cannabis customers have also found themselves running afoul of federal law despite consuming cannabis as per state law. For starters, the federal government has banned medical cannabis patients from purchasing and possessing firearms, a move that has been called unconstitutional because it is in direct violation of the second and fifth amendments.
Last week, a federal Florida judge dismissed a lawsuit from state agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried that challenged the federal government’s decision to prevent medical cannabis patients from legally accessing firearms.
Fried filed the lawsuit in April on the basis that the ban was unconstitutional and was optimistic about last week’s hearing, stating that her legal team had done a “compelling job” arguing the merits of the lawsuit before a federal judge. She filed the lawsuit alongside Florida medical marijuana patients who had been barred from purchasing firearms by the “unconstitutional and discriminatory” federal policy.
However, her lawsuit was dismissed by a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida judge in a 22-page ruling. Judge Allen Windsor ruled that while medical cannabis patients were allowed to consume cannabis by state law, doing so was considered criminal at the federal level. As such, the judge ruled that there was a precedent for denying these individuals their right to bear arms.
He stated that a congressional rider meant to prevent the Department of Justice from using tax dollars to interfere with medical cannabis programs at the state level simply prevented prosecution. It did not, however, “bless the plaintiffs’ actions” forever, he said, arguing that purchasing and consuming medical cannabis was still a crime at the federal level whether or not the user was prosecuted.
With Fried’s lawsuit being thrown out, medical cannabis patients who are honest about their cannabis use when they fill out a background check form from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will be prevented from purchasing firearms.
These inconsistencies between federal marijuana policy and state-level laws don’t just affect consumers. Even companies such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) find themselves having to navigate a complex legal maze in order to adhere to state laws while avoiding running afoul of federal policies.
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