Gun rights are a hot-button issue. Currently, marijuana consumers in legal states are not allowed to purchase and possess marijuana. Florida Republican Congressman Brian Mist of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus is aiming to change that. Read on to find out about his stance on marijuana consumer gun rights.
The Bill on Marijuana Consumers Gun Rights
Mast reintroduced the Gun Rights and Marijuana (GRAM) Act on Thursday, 4/20 as one of a series of cannabis-related bills filed the same day.
The bill allowing marijuana consumers gun rights was previously led by former Cannabis Caucus leader, the late Don Young (R-AK), who Mast replaced. It would amend the federal law so marijuana consumers who lived in legal states would not be considered “unlawful” cannabis users.
Currently, people who admit to being unlawful cannabis users are prohibited from buying, selling, or possessing firearms. The federal policy has been challenged in various courts two of which found it to be unconstitutional.
“No one should be forced to choose between their rights: you have a right to bear arms, and in many states, you have a right to use cannabis. Congress needs to legislate based on reality, and the reality is that those who legally use marijuana are being treated as second-class citizens. That’s not acceptable. Government exists to protect the rights of the people, and that’s what this bill does,” Mast said in a press release.
Federal laws on marijuana consumers gun rights don’t involve actively screening gun owners for drug use. But the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) form asks potential gun purchasers, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Lying on the form is considered a felony.
Gun purchasers must choose between being penalized for lying on the form, and not purchasing a gun. Some would lose their existing gun licenses.
Past Legislation Concerning Marijuana Consumers Gun Rights
Marijuana consumers gun rights have been an issue in several federal courts over the past year. The Justice Department has defended the law’s constitutionality. They referred to a U.S. Supreme Court case that resulted in justices creating a higher standard of policies restricting gun rights.
In February a federal judge declared that banning marijuana consumers gun rights is unconstitutional. He called the federal government’s reasoning in upholding such laws ‘concerning’. The DOJ is appealing his decision.
Mast pointed out that the restriction of gun rights was especially concerning for veterans who often use medical marijuana to deal with war-related injuries.
“Addressing this issue is of particular importance to the veteran community. No veteran that I know wants to be forced to choose between a viable treatment option for conditions like PTSD and the ability to protect themselves and their family. The GRAM Act is about ensuring that no one has to make that choice,” he said.
Mast also defended the legislation during a Fox Business appearance. He stated that cannabis consumers are “being treated like second-class citizens- whether it’s with gun ownership or whether it’s with the banking system or a host of different things.”
“We need to move past this era of prohibition just like what happened with alcohol previously in our country’s history. That has to be the point that we get to with cannabis use in America.
The congressman is also cosponsoring a separate bill introduced by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) which offers limited rights for medical cannabis patients to purchase and own firearms.
Other Marijuana Bills Filed on and Around 4/20
The bill allowing marijuana consumers gun rights was scheduled on 4/20, a day is known for honoring weed. Other congressmen recognized the holiday by filing other cannabis-related bills. These included:
- Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) filed a bill to create a federal grant program that would support the expungement of marijuana-related crimes
- Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) filed a measure to allow legal cannabis businesses to claim tax deductions available to other industries. He believes this would help generate revenue for the government.
- Bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers refiled bills to legalize medical marijuana for veterans on 4/19.
- Joyce and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) filed a measure that would prepare the government for federal legalization the previous week. It directed the attorney general to form a study commission and work toward regulating cannabis similarly to alcohol regulations.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also honored 4/20 by speaking about the future of cannabis legislation at an event at the Capital Building. He discussed his plans to refile his federal legislation bill and to continue his work to improve cannabis banking and handle expungements.
How the Schedule 1 Issue Affects Marijuana Consumers Gun Rights
Part of the problem with current laws concerning marijuana consumer gun rights is the fact that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug. This means that it has the potential for addiction and little medical use. It puts it in the same category as heroin and other dangerous opioids.
If marijuana was removed from the Schedule 1 classification, the substance abuse question on gun questionnaires might remain, but it would no longer include marijuana in its terms.
Several bills have been introduced to reschedule or de-schedule marijuana. In addition to allowing marijuana consumers gun rights, it would also open doors for cannabis research. It would allow marijuana companies to claim normal business expenses on their tax returns.
While there is a lot of government support for the rescheduling of marijuana, many politicians claim that there are too many unknowns. In the meantime, we must wait and see whether the current bill allowing marijuana consumers gun rights will pass Senate.