If you’re a legal medical marijuana patient in the United States, you’re not allowed to own a gun.
Recreational marijuana customers and people who use a variety of other substances, like alcohol, opiates and most prescription drugs, can easily buy weapons undetected. But because medical cannabis patients enter their names into a registry in their home state to obtain a card, they’re easily tracked and thus can be easily banned from also registering for a firearm.
The archaic and hypocritical law has existed for decades, but officials in marijuana-legal states are finally starting to push back.
A lawsuit from Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is the politically conservative state’s lone statewide elected Democrat, said Wednesday she plans to sue the Biden administration so the Sunshine State’s medical cannabis patients can also enjoy their Constitutional rights to gun ownership.
Fried’s suit aims to eliminate a federal form that requires gun buyers to specify if they are unlawful users of drugs and notes that marijuana is illegal under federal law. Typically, medical marijuana patients must answer “yes” to the question, which then gets them denied for a gun. Criminal penalties for lying by answering “no” include a possible five-year prison sentence.
“Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal. This is all about people’s rights,” Fried told NBC News on Wednesday. “And I don’t care who I have to sue to fight for their freedom.”
The suit names the acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants.
It’s very uncommon for a Democrat to sue an administration from the same party during an election year, but Fried told NBC News that her office has received too many complaints from Florida residents for her to feel comfortable waiting any longer.
Florida has 2.5 million concealed weapons permit holders, and about 750,000 medical cannabis patients. If successful, Fried’s suit could produce benefits far beyond Florida. Thirty-eight states, Guam and Washington D.C. now offer some form of legal medical cannabis.
Fried was the only Florida Democrat elected statewide back in 2018, thanks mostly to a campaign that centered on advancing cannabis policy. Florida voters legalized medical cannabis back in 2016 with a 71 percent vote. A February poll from the University of North Florida found more than three-quarters of eligible voters in the state now also support adult-use legalization.