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House Lawmaker Unveils Bill to Protect Medical Cannabis Users’ Gun Rights

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

January 17, 2023

partial view of girl sitting and rolling marijuana joint at home

Adobe Stock

A Republican lawmaker has introduced legislation to protect the gun rights of medicinal cannabis users, who are currently barred from purchasing firearms under federal law. The bill, House Resolution 363 (

), was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday by Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia and co-sponsored by two fellow Republicans, Rep. Thomas Massie of and Rep. Brian Mast of , who is a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Mooney’s bill is the first cannabis-related legislation to be introduced in the 118th Congress, which convened this month with a new Republican majority in the House. Although the full text of the measure has not yet been published online, it appears to be similar to The Second Amendment Protection Act that Mooney filed in 2019,

from Marijuana Moment. The original version, however, failed to advance in the 116th Congress.

Although it is unclear if H.R. 363 is identical to the legislation introduced four years ago, the bill would amend federal gun laws “with respect to the sale, purchase, shipment, receipt, or possession of a firearm or ammunition by a user of medical marijuana,” according to the long-form title of the new bill.

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Federal Law Bans Gun Purchases By Cannabis Users

Under current federal law, people who use

are prohibited from owning or purchasing firearms because they are “an unlawful user of or addicted to” a controlled substance. The ban applies to all cannabis users, including those who use marijuana products that are legal under state law and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to bear arms for all Americans.

The original version of the bill introduced in 2019 maintained the prohibition on people who use controlled substances from obtaining firearms, “except that an individual shall not be treated as an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance based on the individual using marihuana for a medical purpose in accordance with state law.” 

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) enforces the prohibition on cannabis users from purchasing firearms with a

that must be completed before most gun purchase transactions. Among several questions included on the form is one that asks potential gun buyers about their use of controlled substances including cannabis.

“Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside,” the notice reads.

Despite the failure of Mooney’s earlier bill to protect the Second Amendment protections for medical marijuana patients, overturning the ban enjoys widespread bipartisan support from both cannabis policy reform advocates and gun rights proponents. 

“No patient should have to choose between their Second Amendment rights and following doctor’s orders,” Don Murphy, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project,

.

Supporters of repealing the prohibition note that it forces medical cannabis patients to give up their Second Amendment rights, violate the law by completing the ATF form dishonestly, or go through unregulated or illicit channels to obtain a firearm.

“I think we’ve created millions of felons with this question,” Massie said after the original version of the bill was introduced in Congress. “You can’t imagine that everybody in Colorado, who under Colorado state law is legally using marijuana, has never purchased a firearm. That would be completely illogical.”

After its introduction on February 13, Mooney’s bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for its consideration. 

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A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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