Court watchers know that the Ninth U.S. Circuit is one of the most liberal, most-overturned of all circuit courts. So it wasn’t a surprise to many when leftist judges there recently ruled to uphold a ban on gun sales and possession to anyone who uses marijuana for medical purposes – even if it’s legal in their respective state.
As reported by NORML, an organization that is working to reform laws governing the use of marijuana, the judges’ decision backs The Gun Control Act of 1968, a federal law that prohibits the sale of guns to any “unlawful user” of a federally controlled substance. To that end, though the Obama administration’s Justice Department refuses to pursue legal action against the states of Colorado and Washington over recently approved ballot measures allowing recreational use of marijuana, the White House has allowed the Drug Enforcement Agency to continue to classify pot as a Schedule I controlled substance.
Judges making it up
In making their ruling, the judges further determined that their ban “furthers the government’s interest in preventing gun violence,” because cannabis users are supposedly more likely to be involved in violent gun-related crimes. They concluded: “[The plaintiff in this case] does not have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in simultaneously holding a [medical cannabis] registry card and purchasing a firearm.”
That’s the great thing about being a federal judge: If you are anti-gun and a judicial activist you don’t have to cite any evidence in your rulings; you can just make it up as you go along. And, obviously, you don’t have to follow the Constitution unless you want to. There is no language in the Second Amendment that serves as a qualifier – like, for instance that Americans only have the right to keep and bear arms “if it furthers the government’s interest.”
The federal government itself is no better. In 2011, NORML noted, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sent out a memorandum to all gun dealers instructing that anyone who uses marijuana, irrespective of state laws that allow it for medicinal purposes, is nevertheless an “unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance,” and therefore is prohibited by federal law from having a gun or ammunition.
Congress must act
Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML, was justifiably disappointed with the ruling. He said he could find “no credible justification” for an exception to gun ownership because of pot use in the Constitution. He also noted that “responsible adults” who are cannabis users in compliance with state laws that the federal government obviously has no problem with, “ought to receive the same legal rights and protections as do other citizens.” He further called on Congress to act quickly to amend the criminal status of marijuana usage in a manner that matches public and scientific opinion, as well as “its rapidly changing legal status under state laws.”
As reported by KQED, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada woman who tried to buy a firearm for self-defense in 2011, after first obtaining a legal medical marijuana registration card. But she said that the gun store refused to sell to her, citing the 1968 law.
The problem is that marijuana use remains illegal as per federal law, and as such, the mechanisms remain in place to continue eradicating it. For instance, as reported by Big Government, the DEA has ramped up funding for eradication efforts in recent years, despite the fact that more states and jurisdictions are decriminalizing its use. That makes no sense, and it is up to Congress, as NORML has noted, to intervene and correct this obvious legal and constitutional imbalance.