The constitutionality of the federal ban on guns for medical marijuana patients has come under new scrutiny following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning state gun laws. As a result, a lawsuit filed by a top Florida official against the Justice Department has been updated to include new arguments in light of the high court’s most recent ruling.
The Landmark SCOTUS Decision
Following June’s historic decision expanding individual gun rights, the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a number of lower court decisions that had upheld gun restrictions, including Maryland’s ban on assault-style rifles and New Jersey’s and California’s bans on large-capacity ammunition magazines.
The justices’ decisions remanded several cases to lower courts for reconsideration.
The decision also made it clearer how courts must now judge whether limits are legitimate under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, calling for them to be comparable with limitations that have typically been enacted throughout American history. Legal experts believe that if courts applied these criteria, additional gun laws across the country may be declared invalid, which worries gun control activists.
Florida Democrats Defend the 2nd Amendment Rights of Cannabis Users
Attorneys representing Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and other plaintiffs noted the SCOTUS decision in an updated complaint submitted to a federal district court on Friday. This decision usually raises the bar for jurisdictions looking to impose gun rights limitations. Overall, the decision emphasizes that any such limitations must be in keeping with the background of the Second Amendment’s original ratification in 1791.
The plaintiffs argue that the issue now is whether there is historical precedent to support the existing federal regulation that forbids those who acknowledge smoking marijuana during the background check process from obtaining and possessing firearms.
The plaintiffs contended that the prohibition does not hold up under the current judgment since it was implemented more than a century after the Second Amendment was ratified and because cannabis was previously prescribed by doctors before the plant was made illegal.
“Quite simply, there is no historical tradition of denying individuals their Second Amendment rights based solely (or even partially) on the use of marijuana,” the revised filing says (per Marijuana Moment).
“In fact, historical evidence shows that marijuana was considered a legitimate and legal form of medicine in England, America, and other western countries through the mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. It was also discussed and researched for its medical properties in and around the time the Second Amendment was ratified. There was no law or regulation preventing marijuana users from possessing firearms in or around those time periods. Rather, such a ban did not come into existence until around the mid-twentieth century.”
The DOJ acknowledges that the original complaint, which was first filed in April and mostly focused on the policy foundation of the gun limitation, would be revised as a result of the latest SCOTUS verdict. In the action before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the department consequently asked for extra time to answer.
The DOJ now has until August 8 to respond to the updated filing, per the judge’s new deadline. The government has already stated that, rather than addressing the merits of the legal contention, it intends to submit a motion to dismiss.
In a recent interview with Marijuana Moment, Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor of Florida who filed the lawsuit in her capacity as the state’s agriculture commissioner, said that the case isn’t specifically about extending gun rights. She and other important partners in the gun reform movement believe that if their constitutionality argument is successful, it will increase public safety.
The lawsuit claims that by not allowing Florida to accept new patients to expand its medical marijuana program, the federal government is effectively breaching that rider by preventing people from taking medical marijuana if they want to avoid losing their right to own firearms.
The US government never had the authority to take away the gun rights of cannabis users, and Reid, along with other Floridians, is looking to rectify this mistake. This lawsuit isn’t about expanding gun rights but about restoring the rights of Americans who are being discriminated against.
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