U.S. Dept. of Justice Says Medical Cannabis Patients Are Too “Dangerous” to Own Guns
President Biden’s DOJ seems to be taking notes from Harry Anslinger.
Published on August 9, 2022

Medical cannabis patients shouldn’t be trusted with firearms, claims a Department of Justice memo aiming to dismiss a cannabis rights lawsuit.

As reported by Marijuana Moment, the DOJ memo also includes some oddly anti-Indigenous and anti-Catholic references, the latter of which is especially suspicious since President Biden is also Catholic.

The DOJ sent the memo in an attempt to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed by Florida’s agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, a Democrat. Fried and several medical cannabis patients filed the suit on the basis that banning medical cannabis consumers from owning or operating guns is unconstitutional. 

Fried, who helped create Florida’s hemp program, announced the lawsuit on 4/20. The lawsuit was amended in July after the US Supreme Court struck down New York’s concealed carry law and established a new three-step test to determine if a gun regulation is constitutional.

Currently, the US government considers cannabis consumption while owning a firearm to be a crime, even in states where medical or recreational cannabis is legal. Some states, such as Illinois, permit cannabis patients to own firearms, though federal law enforcement can still bust those patients, regardless of state law.

“I would imagine how this is going to eventually fold out, because of the new SCOTUS opinion from a couple weeks ago, I do believe the department is going to recognize that they’re going to have to make changes to this [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] form,” Fried told Marijuana Moment, referring to the federal background check form which asks potential gun buyers if they use illegal drugs, including cannabis, which remains federally outlawed.

“I would imagine that, along the way, they’re going to keep fighting it until they get told by a judge to do it,” Fried continued. “But right now, we’re still monitoring it.”

The DOJ’s anti-weed position can be broken down into three parts. The first two should sound familiar, but the third is relatively new and weird AF.

  1. According to the DOJ, medical cannabis doesn’t even exist, so it’s not a legal argument, as far as they’re concerned. “This memorandum uses the phrase ‘medical marijuana’ for convenience, but Congress has found that marijuana ‘has no currently accepted medical use,’” the memo said.
  2. The DOJ believes medical cannabis patients are perpetually impaired, therefore they cannot be trusted with guns. “It is … dangerous to trust regular marijuana users to exercise sound judgment while intoxicated, a fact tragically borne out by the frequency with which marijuana users drive while impaired and suffer fatal collisions,” stated the memo. Of course, no such laws exist for people who drink alcohol or who pop pharmaceuticals.
  3. The DOJ cited a historical tradition of banning “dangerous” groups of people from owning firearms, a right only reserved for “virtuous citizenry.” 

But who were some of these dangerous groups in America, according to the DOJ? Those “dangerous” groups include Catholics and Native Americans.

“In England and in America from the colonial era through the 19th century, governments regularly disarmed a variety of groups deemed dangerous. England disarmed Catholics in the 17th and 18th centuries …”

Anti-Catholic sentiment led to a lot of murdered innocent people and even wars. It’s curious that the DOJ would also cite old British laws, as British laws are entirely irrelevant to today’s legal climate in the United States.

The memo continued: “Many American colonies forbade providing Indians with firearms …”

Ah, yes, the “Indians.” The Biden Administration is so woke, yeah? Besides singling out an entire religion in its memo, the DOJ also felt it necessary to throw some anti-Indigenous reasoning into the mix, as well. 

The memo went on to lump “the mentally ill” and “panhandlers” into the same “dangerous” groups as Catholics, Native Americans, and Americans who refused to swear oaths of loyalty to the state. The DOJ is sounding more like Fox News these days than the law enforcement arm of the so-called progressive Democratic Party.

Marijuana Moment noted the Florida lawsuit is not asking for a right to operate a firearm while impaired from cannabis. Most US jurisdictions, even those with incredibly lax gun regulations, usually bar gun owners from firing their guns if they’re drunk or intoxicated from pharmaceutical medications. The DOJ is taking an extreme anti-patient stance by claiming cannabis consumers are exceptionally dangerous with firearms, even more dangerous than raging alcoholics or someone driving off a cliff while doped up on sleep meds.

The DOJ cited no studies backing up its claim that medical cannabis patients are more prone to gun violence than alcohol consumers.

In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise. While there’s scant data on cannabis consumption and gun violence, a 2019 study found that after California legalized medical cannabis, the state’s suicide rate fell. As the study’s authors noted, “most suicides involve guns.”

According to the Pew Research Center, more than half, or 54%, of gun deaths in the US are suicides.

As for the Supreme Court’s position on cannabis and gun rights, that remains to be determined. When overturning New York’s concealed carry restrictions in June, the court’s opinion used a three-step test to determine the law’s constitutionality. Basically, the test establishes if similar firearms regulations existed at the time of the Constitution’s framing, and whether the firearm, part, modification, or use being regulated is standardly accepted nationwide. 

If the Supreme Court’s conservative justices stick to their guns — which includes sensitivity to state’s rights, as well as relying on laws from the fucking 1700s — then Fried and her allies may have a case. After all, cannabis was completely legal in the US when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. 

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MERRY JANE is based in Los Angeles, California and is dedicated to elevating the discussion around cannabis culture.
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