One in three Americans owns a gun. No matter where you land on the whole mass shootings, gun ownership, Second Amendment thing, you have to admit--guns are a large part of American society. For better or worse, it’s a normal part of life. We want medical marijuana use to be normalized in the United States, as well. But there’s a problem: if you want to smoke weed, you can forget anything about two smoking barrels.
In the light of President Obama’s recent executive orders tightening up the gun laws, medical marijuana (MMJ) license holders, are looking at the fine print to see if any good has come out of this whole ‘getting-into-trouble-for-crying-it’s-just-a-background-check-and-funding-diversion-bring-it-down-a-notch’ thing. For those looking to close the loopholes of gun show and online firearm sales or wanting permit background checks processed faster, it has. For those licensed by their state to indulge in nature’s bounty, guns remain a federal offense.
Right now it is a federal crime to knowingly sell a firearm or issue a gun permit to a user of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance. And guess what’s still archaically considered a Schedule I controlled substance? Cannabis. Despite state laws legalizing both medical and recreational use of cannabis, the federal law trumps that every time. A state license holder is still considered an “unlawful user” under the wording of the federal law. Federal penalties for possessing marijuana and guns at the same time can be crippling.
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws mean that, for example, if an MMJ patient had a couple of plants as well as a hunting rifle on their property and were accused of a crime, they could face a minimum of an extra five years in prison. In the famed case of the Harvey family, mother, father and son faced a total of 30 years combined jail time under similar circumstances.
Hopefully the executive orders on gun control will make a difference in the battle against America’s mass shooting epidemic. Unfortunately, the federal relationship between people, pot and packing a piece has not changed. Medical license holders possess their state issued gun permits at their own risk. MMJ patients in legalized states continue to face unfair rules regarding gun ownership.
In some legalized states, like Colorado, the medical marijuana registry is not currently included in the background check for a gun permit. Admitting to being a cannabis user on the form will mean no gun. Not disclosing that you are a user could end up with you being prosecuted. Applying for a permit in Colorado is a precarious business to say the least. Increased security and cross agency communication under the president’s new orders will mean better interagency access to public records. This means the chance of an MMJ patient purchasing a gun without disclosing their license and getting away would be very slim.
You know, just in case you were wondering.
POTUS may have dedicated funds to improve the nation’s mental health system and to increase research on gun safety technology, but he has yet to decriminalize the most useful plant in the universe. Legislation that would increase tax revenue, reduce unemployment and lower alcohol related deaths all while legalizing a vibrant source of sustainable medicine? You get the idea.
An executive order that finally ends the misguided, outdated, illogical, unsustainable, self-defeating and economically shortsighted prohibition on cannabis? That’s some ‘for the people’ legislation that could make things very sticky for the folks on Capitol Hill, not to mention those wanting to check their newsfeed from the Oval Office in 2017.
One more thing before you go, Mr. President?