Federal Judge Rules Banning Firearms for Marijuana Users Is Unconstitutional
Last month, a Trump appointed judge from the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma held that the statute banning “unlawful” users of marijuana from possessing firearms violates the Second Amendment of the Constitution. On Friday, March 3, 2023, the Department of Justice filed its Notice of Appeal, informing the trial court that it would be challenging its ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
In his ruling the trial judge found that the historical examples that the Justice Department relied on to make the case that the ban is not unconstitutional—including references to antiquated case law preventing Catholics, loyalists, slaves and Indians from having guns—”misses the mark” and “cannot provide the basis for a historical analogue.”
Advocates in favor of marijuana uses being able to possess firearms have argued that the fight to end the federal ban for cannabis consumers is not about expanding gun rights. Instead, they say, it is an issue of constitutionality and public safety. They also argue that it effectively creates an incentive for cannabis consumers to either lie on the form, buy a gun on the illicit market or simply forgo their right to bear arms.
In light of the federal court’s ruling last month, a GOP Pennsylvania senator recently encouraged law enforcement to take steps toward removing barriers to gun ownership for cannabis consumers, focusing primarily on medical marijuana patients.
In Maryland, a key House committee also held a hearing in February 2023 on a bill protecting gun rights for medical cannabis users. Meanwhile, a Republican congressman filed a bill early this year that seeks to allow medical cannabis patients to purchase and possess firearms. The legislation was also introduced in the 116th Congress but was not ultimately enacted.