As American as Apple Pie: Guns … and Weed

Think potheads don't have rights? Try taking their guns away. This won't be a major talking point during the rhetoric rollout at this week's annual convocation of the National Rifle Association here in Big D. The headliners probably won't bring it up. But it will be a key discussion point on Friday, during a daylong law seminar billed as the "largest gathering of Second Amendment attorneys in the country." Marijuana-use prohibitions for gun owners is listed as a "hot topic in firearms law." As long as we're thinking in comic-book caricatures, which is the only way a lot of us ever think, these seem to be non-emulsifying elements: lazy, flag-burning, scofflaw, R.Crumb stoner hippies and dentally challenged, bug-eyed, redneck gun nuts. Political opposites, right? Well, no, as as our Byzantine pastiche of state and federal law reveals. Efforts in some states to deny gun sales or even confiscate firearms from legally sanctioned medical marijuana users have been met with that rarest of commodities, bipartisan blowback. In January, Pennsylvania regulators performed an abrupt about-face after announcing that the registry of card-holding legal medical marijuana users would be shared with law enforcement databases, and thus flagged should card holders try to buy guns. And there was a furor last fall in Honolulu, when the local police department sent letters to about 30 gun owners who also hold cards for medical marijuana use, demanding that they turn in their firearms. After a joint outcry (har!) from the weed and gun lobbies, the department backed off the confiscation plan. As a practical matter, this is an interesting issue because it highlights the regulatory confusion that reigns in an atmosphere of political absolutism that denies evolving social reality. Federal law is almost comically oblivious to that reality. The Drug Enforcement Administration lists marijuana as a Schedule I substance with "no currently accepted medical use" and thus more dangerous than such Schedule II counterparts as cocaine, methamphetamine and morphine.   Continue reading...

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