Right now it's illegal for any cannabis consumer in America to own firearms under the Second Amendment. But a state senator in Nevada is trying to get a law passed that would defend the right of medical marijuana patients to bear arms in the state.
According to federal law, people aren't allowed to buy or possess firearms if they use marijuana medicinally or recreationally.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 states, "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 Controlled Substances Act, cannabis consumers can't legally bear arms.
But Nevada State Senator Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) hopes to change that by convincing his colleagues to pass Senate bill SB351, which is aimed at protecting the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana patients. He introduced that bill to state legislators last week at the request of medical marijuana patients who reached out to him and asked for help.
"People have come to me and said, 'This isn't fair. Can you guys at least hear us out?' " he told local CBS-affiliate KTVN. "So, it's an opportunity to hear folks out and see where we need to go with it."
Atkinson argues that barring cannabis users from owning firearms is unjust since people who drink don't lose their Second Amendment rights.
"You look at everything else an individual can be on, including alcohol...and it's not an immediate disqualifier," he said. "I think it should be looked at and it shouldn't be an immediate disqualifier for individuals who are...taking it medically."
The senator added that the bill doesn't address recreational cannabis consumers because they aren't required by law to identify themselves. Medical marijuana patients have to apply for and carry a card authorizing their drug use. Recreational users don't face those requirements in the state that legalized adult use in 2016.
But even if the new law does pass, its value would be mostly symbolic since gun dealers would still have to abide by federal regulations. Before people in America can buy a gun, they have to fill out an ATF 4473 form, which specifically asks, "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?"
The form also clarifies that marijuana remains federally illegal even if the state an applicant resides in has legalized or decriminalized it.
Atkinson's bill can't overrule those guidelines, according to Jay Hawkins, Manager of Reno Guns & Range.
"That law doesn't change the guidelines that we're bound by, which is federal guidelines," Hawkins told KTVN. "All that law would change is the possession."
So a person could legally own a gun under the new Nevada law, but they couldn't buy a new one and they couldn't buy any ammo. So thanks to federal cannabis prohibition, their Second Amendment rights have been basically watered down to the freedom to own an expensive paperweight.
But that could change if Congress passes a cannabis reform bill introduced to the House last month by Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Virginia). Rep. Garrett's bill would essentially repeal federal prohibition and allow individual states to determine the legality of marijuana.
h/t KTVN (Reno, Nevada)
Banner image: thelegislator.org (Nevada State Senator, Kelvin Atkinson)