A federal judge last week threw out a lawsuit brought by a top Florida official challenging a rule that prohibits medical marijuana patients from purchasing 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.”
The crux of the lawsuit, which was filed in April by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, centered around a discrepancy between state and federal law.
As the News Service explained:
“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. Federal laws also bar certain people from buying and possessing guns, including people who use drugs illegally. 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.”
Medical marijuana is legal. 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.”
But in his ruling on Friday, Winsor disagreed.
“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 was a candidate for governor this year, but she fell to Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary held in August.
She has long been a champion for cannabis reform.
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, who is heavily favored to win on Tuesday, has said previously that legalization will not happen on his watch.
“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.”
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