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Former NRA President Calls on Feds to Allow Gun Ownership for Medical Marijuana Patients

The conservative leader broke from official NRA talking points to speak about one of the most pressing issues of federal interference in state-legal cannabis while vouching for patients’ rights.

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Photo via Gage Skidmore

Conservative leader and former president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) David Keene is the cannabis industry’s newest advocate.

In an op-ed for the Washington Times, Keene — a former advisor to Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — calls on the federal regulators to finally end the government’s ban on gun ownership for registered medical cannabis patients.

Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical value in the eyes of the U.S. government, and because nationwide requirements for gun ownership ban any users of any federally illicit drugs, even patients with state-approved cannabis recommendations have been denied the right to bear arms by gun sellers. In some extreme instances, local municipalities have gone as far as to send letters to registered medical marijuana patients asking that they turn in any firearms they already own.

While the NRA is always first in line to defend gun ownership in the face of violent tragedies involving firearms, the nation’s largest gun advocacy group has so far been silent on the 2nd Amendment issues facing legal cannabis users. To reconcile that disparity, Keene, the president of the NRA from 2011-2013 and current editor at large at the Washington Times, calls for an immediate policy change which states’ rights to self-determination and the constitutional freedoms of medical cannabis patients.

“The refusal of the federal government to accede to the judgment of the states on the issue has created problems for tens or even hundreds of thousands of gun owners who are being forced to either trade their Second Amendment rights for a chance to live pain-free or risk prosecution and imprisonment,” Keene wrote.

Because Keene stepped down from NRA leadership years ago, his progressive position does not carry any official weight for the conservative association, but still represents yet another bit of progress from the right side of the political aisle on the topic of cannabis reform.

In his call to arms, Keene noted that there are “merits on both sides of the argument” about recreational cannabis legalization, but stood firm in support of medical marijuana, finishing his piece with a statement that surpasses his 2nd Amendment argument, and rings true for every aspect of America’s struggle for cannabis legalization: “Trading a constitutional right for pain relief is a choice no one should have to make.”

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