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An Examination of Nuances at the Intersection of Cannabis and Gun Laws in 2022

Intersection of Cannabis and Gun Laws in 2022

As of February 2022, 37 states have legalized medical marijuana. According to the 2022 U.S. Cannabis Report, the number of medical marijuana patients will rise from 4.4 million (2021) to 4.7 million by the end of this year, 2022. This same source projects the number of registered medical marijuana patients can climb as high as 5.7 million by 2030. This group would then make up 2% of the country’s population.

As of 2021, approximately 30% of American adults own a firearm. That number grows daily.

As medical marijuana use is on the steady rise, federal laws come into question as they can often conflict with state regulation. Under federal law, possession of marijuana is illegal; under subsequent amendments to many state constitutions, hundreds of thousands of patients can buy medical marijuana.

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 must be considered when the intersection of Cannabis Law and Gun Law is at hand:

  • The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 make it illegal for a person who fits into any of the following categories to ship, transport, receive or possess firearms or ammunition.
  • Persons who are unlawful users of or are addicted to narcotics or any other controlled substances, including medical marijuana.

Florida is 1 of the 37 states that have legalized medical marijuana (since 2016), and according to Commissioner Nicole Fried, agency head of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the Federal Government’s irrational, inconsistent, and incoherent marijuana policy listed above undermines the state’s medical marijuana and firearms laws, therefore precluding her from ensuring Floridians receive the state rights relating to them.

In April of this year, Commissioner Fried and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government to challenge this set of conflicting laws, contending that the Defendant has improperly conflated illegal drug trade’s ancillary violence and dangers with safe, state-legal, and federally-protected medical marijuana programs.

The Challenged Sections and Challenged Regulations punish Florida state-law-abiding medical marijuana patients by depriving them of their Second Amendment rights. They also serve to improperly burden potential qualified patients with the decision to forego participating in the state medical marijuana program because the use of such state-permitted medication would cost them their Second Amendment rights.

Commissioner Fried asserted that the Challenged Sections and Challenged Regulations violate the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, legislation prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds that would interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws, on the basis that they prevent the use of Florida’s medical marijuana program by punishing state-law-abiding patients, and precluding those who qualify to participate in the state medical marijuana program from doing so.

This month, in a 22-page response to the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor asserted that cannabis is federally illegal and those enrolled in Florida's medical cannabis program were violating federal law, therefore preventing them from purchasing firearms. Judge Winsor made this decision despite studies that have shown that marijuana use does not increase violent crime.

Navigation between federal and state cannabis and gun laws are complicated. The nuances applied to state-approved medical treatment raises the stakes to an all-time high. Attorney Ian N. Friedman and the legal team at Friedman Nemecek Long & Grant, L.L.C., L.L.C. have earned national recognition for tackling complex and high-stakes criminal and administrative cases. The lawyers of Friedman Nemecek Long & Grant, L.L.C., L.L.C., are regularly sought after as “go-to” resources for news agencies and others seeking legal insight into criminal law.

If you have questions about Ohio’s medical marijuana program, or a state or federal criminal matter, our award-winning attorneys are available to help. Contact us to speak with a lawyer.