The Biden administration argued this week that medical marijuana users should not be allowed to possess firearms because they are engaged in “criminal activity” that makes them “dangerous,” according to a Florida lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) gun ban for users of medical marijuana.
Nikki Fried, head of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, sued the federal government earlier this year — on April 20 — in an effort to restore medical marijuana users’ Second Amendment rights. Florida law permits “medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver,” but the ATF’s regulatory definition of unlawful drug users includes medical marijuana.
“Possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, is a federal crime,” the Biden administration asserted in a motion to dismiss the case. “Florida’s government recognizes that marijuana use impairs judgment, cognition, and physical coordination, including ‘the ability to think, judge, and reason,’ precisely the types of impairments that make it dangerous for a person to possess firearms.”
Biden’s Justice Department also noted that courts have “uniformly upheld” federal law criminalizing “unlawful [drug] users” who possess a firearm. It is a felony to violate such laws, and offenders could face up to 10 years in prison.
In the lawsuit, Fried acknowledged that medical marijuana impacts patients physically and psychologically, but argued “the relevant question in this matter is whether the physical and/or psychological effects of medical marijuana on a state-law-abiding patient render them sufficiently dangerous or violent.”
“No patient should have to choose between their medicine and employment or a roof over their head or access to capital or their constitutional rights,” Fried told reporters in April, as reported by Action News Jax.
The Biden administration’s continued defense of limiting medical marijuana users’ Second Amendment rights comes after six Democrat senators sent the president a letter expressing frustration over the administration’s refusal to reclassify marijuana, which is currently listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
“There is widespread public support for cannabis legalization, with around two-thirds of the public supporting the legalization of cannabis,” the letter states. “In communities where cannabis has been legalized, there have been widespread economic, racial-justice, public safety, and health benefits.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would legalize marijuana nationwide, abolishing penalties for those who manufacture, distribute or possess the drug.
At the time, Pelosi argued the bill would bring about “justice for those harmed by the brutal, unfair consequences of criminalization” and would open doors to participate in the industry which would be decriminalized federally “so we do not repeat the grave mistakes of our past.”