The United States allows citizens to carry an assault rifle in public, or swing into a saloon with a six-gun on their hips — or hidden in a boot, purse, or nine-millimeter-sized pocket.
But there’s one situation where the Second Amendment doesn’t apply, according to the federal government: medical cannabis.
Marijuana and firearms do not — must not — mix, a court ruling confirmed Aug. 31. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier lower court decision, which affirmed a Nevada-based gun dealer’s denial of a legal gun purchase to a state-legal medical marijuana user.
The decision binds only the areas within the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, the western United States, where legal cannabis — and marijuana use in general — is most prevalent. Coloradans are in a different Circuit.
Critics say the decision is ridiculous given that it’s notoriously easy to purchase a firearm in America, even in states with supposedly strict gun control laws. In California, one of the hardest places to buy a gun, you need to go to a licensed gun dealer — of which there are many — and wait ten days.
You can also buy a gun if you’re on the FBI’s terrorist watch list — including assault-style rifles like the one used in the June massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Furthermore, one of medical cannabis’s most frequent users are professionally trained in the use of guns: military veterans. Veterans in Canada are flocking to government-approved medical cannabis, and in the United States, veterans swear by cannabis’s ability to replace opiates in pain management and to soothe the horrors of post-traumatic stress disorder.
While cannabis has no lethal overdose, about 30 people die every day in the United States from gun accidents or homicides, according to the Washington Post. Alcohol use is involved in another 30 daily deaths from drunk-driving, assaults and accidents.
The courts aren’t necessarily the ones to blame for this one — it’s yet another federal law enforcement agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which states guns must be denied to anyone “who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes”.
The court of public opinion differs, however.
I think most label me as leftish moderate. Pro married gay couples defending their marijuana with their guns. https://t.co/HvesLzZ2PN
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) September 2, 2016
Why doesn’t @NRA have anything to say about medical marijuana patients being denied Second Amendment rights?
— Marijuana Majority (@JoinTheMajority) September 2, 2016
— Daniel Johnson (@DanJohnsoninc) September 1, 2016
A US Court Upheld A Ruling: Medical Marijuana Users Cannot Legally Buy Guns.
You Can Still Buy An AR-15 & Get Drunk pic.twitter.com/VtxEQFU5Xv
— relombardo (@relombardo3) September 2, 2016
Keep guns out of the hands of cannabis users. Right. That should be our top priority. https://t.co/OuTyOSPG1C
— L.A. Weekly (@LAWeekly) September 2, 2016
The National Rifle Association — who supports the gun rights of those on terrorism watch lists — has issued no response on the ruling.
Should lawful medical cannabis users be able to own firearms?