Ban on guns for marijuana users declared unconstitutional
A federal judge has dismissed charges against a man accused of violating a US federal law prohibiting marijuana users from owning guns, ruling on Friday that the law itself violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
While the government had the right to restrict gun ownership by “dangerous” people, it could not claim that Jared Harrison’s “mere status as a user of marijuana justifies stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm,” US District Judge Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma argued in his ruling. Merely using the drug – which is legal for medical purposes in the state – is “not in and of itself a violent, forceful, or threatening act,” the judge explained.
Wyrick condemned the federal ban on gun ownership by cannabis users as “unconstitutionally vague” and “in violation of the Due Process Clause” in addition to being an infringement of Harrison’s Second Amendment rights, citing last year’s Supreme Court ruling (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen) strengthening gun rights in his decision.
Harrison, an employee of a medical marijuana dispensary, was arrested after police pulled him over for running a red light. After claiming to smell the drug and observing the ankle monitor Harrison was wearing pending trial on aggravated assault charges, police searched his vehicle, finding a revolver and several cannabis products. He was subsequently charged with possession of drugs and paraphernalia, failure to obey a traffic signal, and “possessing a firearm with knowledge that he was an unlawful user of marijuana.”
While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, classified Schedule I with no legitimate uses, most states have decriminalized it to some extent, whether by allowing medical use or by fully legalizing its sale and cultivation. President Joe Biden promised last year to pardon anyone federally convicted of simple marijuana possession, urging state governors to do the same for those convicted on state charges and requesting a review of the drug’s legal status by the attorney general and the secretary of health and human services.