Cannabis, Congress, and the Second Amendment

February 11, 2023 | Written By Jay Kotzker

Cannabis, Congress, and the Second Amendment

GOP lawmakers have filed the first piece of cannabis reform legislation for the 118th Congress, seeking to amend federal law related to firearm sales to medical cannabis users. The bill, known as the “Second Amendment Protection for Medical Cannabis Patients Act,” aims to protect the Second Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients by amending federal law to prohibit the denial of firearms sales to individuals solely because they are medical cannabis patients.

Currently, federal law prohibits the sale of firearms and ammunition to individuals who are “unlawful users” of controlled substances, which includes cannabis, even in states where it is legal for medical or recreational use. Under the bill’s language, people who use federally illegal controlled substances would not be able to own a firearm “except that an individual shall not be treated as an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance based on the individual using marihuana for a medical purpose in accordance with state law.”

This bill would address the significant gap in federal cannabis policy.  On the one hand, the Biden Administration is eager to tout advanced research initiatives and the expungement of low-level marijuana convictions.  Yet, the country’s servicemen and women cannot discuss medical marijuana with VA medical professionals.  Indeed, just last year, the Justice Dept. argued in court filings that medical marijuana patients were dangerous to the community and should be barred from owning firearms.    

Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) introduced the bill, and it is being co-sponsored by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who is a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. A similar bill was filed in 2019 but failed to advance out of committee. 

The bill is welcome news for many individuals who use medical marijuana and desire to own and use personal firearms responsibly.  Until this bill or something similar passes, medical marijuana patients will continue to be deprived of their Second Amendment rights or risk hefty fines and possible incarceration. 

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