A Minnesota Republican lawmaker has proposed a new bill that would make it easier for the state's medical marijuana patients to own guns.
Although the right to bear arms is protected by the US Constitution, federal law denies that right to anyone who uses illegal drugs. And even though most states have legalized medical cannabis in some form, the government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no medical value. For this reason, medical cannabis patients have been blocked from legally buying guns, and some states have even threatened to take patients' guns away from them.
Cannabis advocates in Congress have been trying to reform the country's antiquated prohibition laws for years now, but the push for reform has only just begun to pick up steam. In the meantime, several states have drafted their own laws to protect gun ownership rights for cannabis users. When Illinois legalized adult-use last year, the state rifle association said that pot users could still own guns, and the Oklahoma legislature is working on a bill to restore gun rights to medical cannabis patients.
Now, a Minnesota lawmaker wants to bring similar protections to his home state. State. Rep. Rod Hamilton (R) just proposed a new bill that would help protect gun ownership rights by rescheduling cannabis under state law. Medical marijuana is legal in Minnesota, but like the federal government, the state still classifies it as a Schedule I drug. This classification prohibits gun retailers from legally selling firearms to any of the state's 43,000 registered medical pot patients.
Hamilton has run into this very problem himself. The lawmaker has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is currently using medical cannabis to treat his symptoms. But when he tried to renew his permit to carry a gun or legally use a firearm to hunt, his name showed up on a list of registered patients, and his renewal was denied.
The new proposal would address this issue by reclassifying cannabis as a Schedule 2 drug under state law. Drugs in this category are legal if prescribed by a doctor, and do not disqualify a person from owning a gun, at least in the state. Of course, this bill would still contradict federal law, which continues to classify pot as a Schedule I drug, but Hamilton believes this bill could send an important message to Congress.
“We need to do this, along with other states like Oklahoma, to get the attention of Congress in Washington, DC,” the lawmaker told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “It needs to change at the federal level and here so people can legally get their gun permits renewed and so they can hunt with family and friends and not be in violation of the law. No one in the medical cannabis program wants to be in violation of the law.”
Other Minnesota lawmakers are considering an even bolder solution to the problem: legalizing cannabis entirely. Last week, the House Majority Leader and his fellow Democrats proposed a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis sales and address the ongoing social justice issues created by prohibition.