If you're a cannabis consumer as well as a gun owner living in America, then you're breaking the law - whether you live in a state that has legalized marijuana or not.
According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, Americans are not allowed to possess guns if they use cannabis for any reason. The law reads, "It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person...is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act."
Since marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug in the CSA, cannabis aficionados are barred from bearing arms.
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The law doesn't come up often, but it did make headlines last week because of a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees jurisprudence in western states like Washington, Oregon and Nevada, where a firearms dealer refused to sell S. Rowan Wilson a gun because she had a medical marijuana card.
Wilson challenged the law, claiming it was a violation of the Second Amendment. But the district's panel of judges unanimously ruled that the 1968 act doesn't violate a person's constitutional right to bear arms.
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So the law remains on the books, but the ruling won't likely effect Americans in legal states because rules aren't strictly enforced, according to Michael Hammond of the activist group Gun Owners of America (GOA).
"A vast number of people would be felons under the law if it were enforced," Hammond told Civilized. "If gun laws were enforced, tens of millions, perhaps a hundred million people wouldn’t be able to own a gun."
He said that the law might be enforced if people continue clamoring for the government to enforce the country's gun laws.
"We [at GOA] have talked a lot about the dummies who talk about enforcing the law without realizing that a number of people would be made felons by virtue of the gun control laws."
That legal limbo has prompted some cannabis advocates to speak out following the 9th District's ruling. In a recent op-ed for The Cannabist, longtime activist Ben Livingston asked, "What the hell, NRA? Where you been all these years?"
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But gun activists have the same question for marijuana advocates.
"We’ve talked abut [supporting marijuana legalization]," Hammond told Civilized. "I don’t think we have a formal position on whether it should be legal or illegal. But we’ve talked about it with people who are thrilled about gun control and don’t understand the vast numbers of people who use marijuana who are technically prohibited and are considered felons because of our goofy gun control laws...But I will say this, for those people who want to seize everyone’s guns, and say I want to smoke marijuana - they're saying I want more freedom for me, and less for you."
So cannabis consumers would have to get onside with gun owners if they want groups like GOA and the NRA to help them. Or in Hammond's words, "People who want marijuana legalized should stand up for the rights of others, including gun owners."