Bill Would Try to Square Legal Marijuana Use and Gun Purchases
With most of the country allowing at least some sort of legalized marijuana use, a group of Republican lawmakers is seeking to make sure users' gun rights remain intact.
The Gun Rights And Marijuana, or GRAM, Act, aims to safeguard the Second Amendment rights of Americans living in jurisdictions with legal adult-use marijuana and medicinal cannabis.
Although marijuana is legal for adults in 16 states, and as medical cannabis in 34, it remains listed as a highly addictive and dangerous Schedule I drug with the federal government. It shares the same designation as ecstasy, heroin, and LSD. This has resulted in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives maintaining a status quo that any sale or possession of firearms by those who use marijuana – even if it is otherwise allowed by state law– remains criminal.
This, the backers of the GRAM Act argue, is an overreach.
"It should be up to individual states to determine their own marijuana laws, not the federal government," said U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla, one of the bill's co-sponsors. "The Constitution says nothing about marijuana, but the Second Amendment clearly outlines every American's right to bear arms. This legislation makes it so individuals who use marijuana in a State that permits legal adult-use are still able to purchase firearms."
The measure, filed as H.R.2830 by Alaska Republican Don Young, would install an exemption on ATF Form 4473's troublesome Question 21 (e) for those who use marijuana in states or on tribal land where it is otherwise legal. Lying on the form is a felony punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment.
Young, who represents a state that largely decriminalized marijuana in 1998 for medical use and in 2015 for recreational use, says the current regs just do not make any sense.
"Gun ownership is a significant part of Alaska's culture and lifestyle," said Young, who hails from a state that also has constitutional carry protections. "When my constituents chose to legalize adult-use marijuana, they were not surrendering their Second Amendment rights. At a time when more individuals have been purchasing firearms for self-defense, sportsmanship, hunting, and countless other reasons, we have experienced a surge in state-level cannabis reforms. While we make progress in some areas, it is vital that we do not roll back progress in others."
The GRAM Act has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.