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Judge Tosses Out Lawsuit on Rule Barring Medical Cannabis Users From Buying Guns

The federal judge overturned a lawsuit filed by an official from Florida challenging the ban on medical marijuana patients buying and acquiring guns. 

The News Service of Florida reports that U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor “issued a 22-page ruling [on Friday] that granted a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleged the prohibitions violate Second Amendment rights.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried filed this lawsuit in April. The suit was based on a difference between federal and state laws. 

According to the News Service:

“Under federal law, possession of marijuana is illegal; under a 2016 Florida constitutional amendment, hundreds of thousands of patients are able to buy medical marijuana. Some people, such as those who are using illegal drugs, cannot buy or possess guns. Federal law also prohibits them from doing so. The lawsuit, filed in April, alleged the federal prohibitions ‘forbid Floridians from possessing or purchasing a firearm on the sole basis that they are state law-abiding medical marijuana patients.’”

Fried, a Democrat who at the time was running for governor of Florida, said in her announcement of the lawsuit that she was “suing the Biden Administration because people’s rights are being limited.”

Legalization of medical marijuana has been established. Guns are legal,” Fried said in the announcement, which came on 4/20. “This is about people’s rights and their freedoms to responsibly have both.”

Winsor however disagreed in Friday’s ruling.

“In 2016, Florida stopped criminalizing the medical use of marijuana. Many people refer to this change as Florida’s ‘legalizing’ medical marijuana, but Florida did no such thing. It couldn’t. ‘Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, state laws cannot permit what federal law prohibits,’ and federal law still prohibits possession of marijuana — for medical purposes or otherwise,” Winsor wrote, as quoted by the News Service of Florida.

NBC News, reporting on Fried’s lawsuit in April, said that it “[targeted] a federal form that asks whether the gun buyer is an unlawful user of drugs and specifies that marijuana is illegal under federal law.”

“A person allowed by the state to use marijuana must then check “yes,” which results in denial of the purchase. Lying by checking ‘no’ runs the risk of a five-year prison sentence for making a false statement,” NBC explained at the time. “Fried, whose office oversees concealed weapons permits and regulates some aspects of medical marijuana, argues in her lawsuit that the form violates the Second Amendment rights of lawful medical marijuana patients and runs afoul of a congressional budget prohibition on federal agents’ interfering with state-sanctioned cannabis laws.”

Fried had been a candidate this year for governor, but was defeated by Charlie Crist at the Democratic primary in August. 

Her long-standing support for reform of cannabis has been an inspiration.

Crist, who is challenging Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis in Tuesday’s election, has pledged to legalize recreational cannabis in the Sunshine State if he is elected.

Crist also announced last month that he would “expunge criminal records for those arrested on misdemeanors or third-degree felonies related to the drug if he were elected governor next year,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

DeSantis is a heavily-favored winner on Tuesday. He has previously stated that legalization would not occur under his supervision.

“Not while I’m governor,” DeSantis, widely regarded as a possible Republican presidential candidate, said in 2019. “I mean look, when that is introduced with teenagers and young people, I think it has a really detrimental effect to their well being and their maturity.”