Dozens of states may now allow medical and recreational cannabis, but continued federal prohibition has been a major thorn in the state-legal cannabis industry’s side. Marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule I drug has made it nigh impossible for cannabis businesses to access financial services and significantly hindered investment in the industry.
Furthermore, federal prohibition has led to plenty of cannabis consumers being penalized for engaging in acts, such as purchasing and consuming cannabis, that are legal in their state. A recent lawsuit seeks to understand the rationale behind one such penalty: preventing medical marijuana users from purchasing guns.
After a recent ruling from the Supreme Court overturned state gun restrictions, a top Florida official filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Department of Justice to explain why medical marijuana users are barred from buying guns. Citing the Supreme Court ruling, attorneys representing Florida agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried and other plaintiffs recently filed the revised complaint in a federal district court.
They argued that there simply isn’t a historical tradition of stripping people of their second amendment rights to bear arms based on marijuana use. The amendment was ratified more than a century before the United States launched the war on drugs, they say, and doctors were known to prescribe marijuana before America embarked on cannabis prohibition.
Coupled with the SCOTUS ruling, which states that restrictions on gun rights must be consistent with the second amendment, the attorneys argue that the ban preventing medical marijuana users from buying guns simply doesn’t hold water. The filing highlighted marijuana’s history as a “legitimate and legal form of medicine” in Western territories such as America and England, stating that the controversial drug had been discussed and even researched for its drug potential when the second amendment was ratified.
Until the mid-twentieth century, the filing goes on, there were no regulations and laws preventing people who used cannabis from accessing firearms. Commissioner Fried first issued the lawsuit in April, claiming that the Biden administration was acting unconstitutionally by banning guns for medical marijuana users. She directed the lawsuit to the head of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The Department of Justice now has until August 8, 2022, to respond to the revised lawsuit. However, the DOJ has already intimated that rather than defend the rationale behind the gun ban, it plans on filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
It is individual efforts such as the lawsuits filed by Nikki Fried that could help chip away at the vestiges of marijuana prohibition and eventually result in the kind of regulatory environment, which will allow companies such Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTC: NUGS) to establish a footprint across the country if they so wish and thrive.
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