Marijuana use remains a controversial topic in the gun community. Despite some states legalizing cannabis use, it remains a federally controlled substance. Marijuana users are, therefore, prohibited from owning firearms by federal gun laws.
Two GOP legislators, Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) joined Don Young (R-AK) in filing H.R. 2830, also known as the Gun Rights and Marijuana (GRAM) Act. Rep. Young is also the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep Young says he swore to defend all rights, including those of legal marijuana users. He says it is possible to protect the 2A rights of legal users while preventing illegal users and addicts from owning guns.
Additionally, the law would only apply to adults residing in jurisdictions recognizing lawful marijuana use. Marijuana would also remain a federally-controlled substance and the status of other recreational drugs would not change under the proposed law.
Rep. Mast says that states should determine their Marijuana laws independently from the federal government. Similarly, lawful marijuana use should not be a pretext to restrict citizens’ right to own firearms which are guaranteed by the constitution, according to Rep. Davis.
Young added that states that legalize marijuana use do not surrender their Second Amendment rights. He pointed out that the upsurge in firearm ownership has coincided with increased state-level marijuana reforms hence the need to reconcile the two.
“The federal government has no business unduly restricting responsible citizens from exercising their rights or restricting states from listening to their constituents and reforming marijuana laws,” Rep. Young said. “The GRAM Act bridges this gap. Given that it deals with both gun and marijuana rights, there really is something for those on both sides of the aisle to support.”
Rep. Young justified his proposal saying that he swore to defend the entire Bill of Rights and not picking which rights to defend. He added that the U.S. Constitution said nothing about marijuana but granted every American the right to keep and bear arms.
“There are two main pillars that make this legislation important. First, it protects the Second Amendment for individuals seeking to exercise their Constitutional rights. It also defends the Tenth Amendment right of states to determine their own cannabis laws, as Alaska did in 2014.”
The ATF asks firearm license applicants whether they are unlawful users of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.
While the agency does not carry THC tests to ascertain the truthfulness of the answer, responding affirmatively leads to disqualification. Similarly, lying on a federal form is a felony that would eventually lead to the permanent loss of gun rights.
There are cases when federal law has collided with state laws on legal marijuana usage and gun rights. The U.S. Department of Justice ordered firearm dealers to conduct federal background checks in Michigan, claiming that marijuana users and other prohibited persons had acquired firearms.
Young believes his bills could attract bipartisan support given Democrats' attempts to legalize marijuana and Republicans’ interest in protecting American’s Second Amendment rights.
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