A recent lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania doctor is seeking to guarantee gun ownership rights for medical cannabis patients. Under current federal law, people who use cannabis and other illegal drugs are banned from purchasing firearms. Although cannabis remains a scheduled I substance at the federal level, many states now permit marijuana use for recreational or medical purposes. The lawsuit aims to compel the federal government to recognize medical marijuana as an exception to the ban on firearm sales to drug users.

If you have been denied of your right to purchase a firearm, a license to carry firearms, or have been charged with a crime relating to being a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia defense attorney Michael Fienman is an active member of the Medical Marijuana Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and is at the forefront of legal cannabis issues throughout the state. Mr. Fienman is also a member of the ASTM International Committee on Cannabis which is focused on developing standards for cannabis, its products and processes.

Call (215) 839-9529 or submit a request online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Pennsylvania Doctor Denied Firearm Rights for Using Medical Pot

In April 2018, a Philadelphia area doctor named Matthew Roman attempted to purchase a handgun at a local gun store. Roman is authorized to use cannabis to treat himself for post-traumatic stress disorder, a fact which he disclosed to the sales clerk at the gun shop. Although Roman has “no other record of violence, criminal activity, or mental disorder,” as he claims in the lawsuit, the clerk was unable to sell him a firearm because of his marijuana use.

The 1968 Gun Control Act states that anyone who is an “unlawful” user of a controlled substance can neither purchase nor own a firearm. Under this law, federally licensed gun dealers must screen all prospective purchasers for drug use. Marijuana may be legal to use at the state level, but from the perspective of federal authorities marijuana use is still unlawful, and is thus an appropriate basis for denying someone the right to exercise their second amendment right to buy a firearm.

John Weston, the attorney for Matthew Roman, argued that the federal firearms ban on medical marijuana patients is unjust, especially since “alcoholics are not prohibited from owning firearms.” He added that “Ambien has side effects that are arguably much worse than those of medical marijuana, and yet a person who’s being prescribed Ambien for this same condition has the absolute constitutional right to own a firearm for self-defense in his home.”

Will Cannabis Users Be Able to Exercise their Second Amendment Rights?

Attorney Weston accurately describes the unjust application of federal law. However, just because the enforcement of a law is unfair or illogical does not make it illegal. Dr. Roman and his legal team must present a convincing legal argument to the court to succeed.

Their legal argument is based on two premises. The first is that the 1968 Gun Control Act unlawfully deprives people of their second amendment right to own firearms. The second is that the Act violates the fifth amendment right against self-incrimination of marijuana patients because it forces them to report that they “unlawfully” use marijuana when they purchase a firearm, even though the use of marijuana is legal under state law.

Unfortunately, these arguments may not be enough to convince the court. In 2016, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled that Congress could restrict the second amendment rights of cannabis users because its use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.” Congress may legally restrict the second amendment rights of Americans when there is a rational basis for doing so. This is a well-established area of constitutional law, and it is unlikely that two federal appeals courts will reach a different decision on the same question.

Dr. Roman’s lawsuit may not reverse the law, but he has already succeeded in raising awareness to the unfair application of federal drug and gun laws. By highlighting this unfairness, Dr. Roman will add to the growing momentum in favor of changing these antiquated federal laws.

Contact a Marijuana Lawyer to Assert Your Rights

At Fienman Defense, we are here to assert your firearm rights, while also defend your ability to choose the best medical treatment available. As a member of the Medical Marijuana Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association, we are proud guardians of justice in defending the rights of Pennsylvania medical marijuana users.

If you or a loved one is facing Pennsylvania drug charges or were unfairly denied a gun permit, call (215) 839-9529 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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