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Trump admin. sued over rules blocking medical marijuana patients from gun ownership

November 16, 2018

Lawyers for a medical marijuana patient have sued the Trump administration over a federal law that bans licensed firearm dealers from selling guns to people who use the plant in states that permit it.

Attorneys representing Dr. Matthew Roman filed the Second Amendment lawsuit in Philadelphia federal court Thursday against the U.S. government and specifically the heads of the Justice Department, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seeking reprieve from restrictions preventing tens of thousands of medical marijuana users from legally owning guns.

Thirty-three states have passed laws legalizing marijuana to varying degrees in spite of federal prohibition, and the plaintiff, a Philadelphia medical doctor, personally uses the plant to threat post-traumatic stress disorder in accordance with Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program, lawyer John K. Weston wrote in the lawsuit.

Dr. Roman attempted to purchase a handgun for self-defense from a licensed dealer in April, but he was declined after acknowledging that he uses marijuana in response to a question asked on an ATF background check form, his lawyer wrote.

“Dr. Roman truthfully answered that he did have a medical cannabis card, and the staff member responded that it was not legal under federal law to have a medical cannabis card and purchase a weapon,” according to the lawsuit.

Federal law bans licensed firearm dealers from selling to anyone considered “an unlawful user” of any controlled substance as defined in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

The Drug Enforcement Agency, a division of the Justice Department, has categorized marijuana alongside heroin and LSD as a Schedule 1 drug, effectively banning legal pot patients in more than half the country from legally owning guns.

Arguing against the government’s existing restrictions, Mr. Weston wrote that the limitations “unconstitutionally prohibit law-abiding citizens who have enrolled in state medical cannabis programs from purchasing a firearm,” allegedly violations of their constitutionally protected rights to gun ownership and due process.

“This strict, rigid, blanket prohibition violated the fundamental constitutional rights of tens of thousands of non-violent, law-abiding citizens, and is thus violates the Second and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.”

Representatives for the Justice Department did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and a Democratic member of the state House recently introduced a bill that would legalize the plant for recreational purposes as well.

Dr. Roman, 33, became a cardholder under the state’s medical marijuana program in March 2018, his lawyer wrote. He has recommended the plant to patients in addition to using it himself, according to the lawsuit.

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